After playing both sides of the aisle for months, Gov. Bruce Rauner made up his mind and signed House Bill 40 into law Sept. 28, expanding taxpayer-subsidized abortions for women covered by Medicaid and state employee insurance.
The law also eliminates trigger language in Illinois law that would have made abortion illegal in the state should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. It goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
While this is an important step for Illinois law and grants low-income women the rights their more well-off counterparts already had, Rauner’s continuous flip-flopping on the issue and record as governor cannot be ignored just because he did one good thing.
Well, actually, two good things. Rauner also signed the Trust Act, Senate Bill 31, into law Aug. 28, which protects undocumented immigrants from being detained by law enforcement based solely on their immigration status, as reported Sept. 11 by The Chronicle.
These recent decisions by Rauner have drawn criticism from his Republican friends and anxiety from state Democrats, as they should. Rauner has proved himself not to be a friend of the state, nor a voice for women or immigrants. He may have a few more liberal-leaning views, but Illinoisans—both Democrats and Republicans—need to take every one of his moves and decisions with a grain of salt.
Though state lawmakers passed HB40 May 10, it was not sent to Rauner until Sept. 25, giving him ample time for back-and-forth rhetoric and inconsistent remarks. Rauner told Cardinal Blase Cupich that he intended to vote against the bill but has also historically been for abortion rights. Ultimately disregarding what he told Cupich, Rauner said he had to stay true to his values and signed the bill, and Cupich came back saying Rauner “did break his word,” according to a Sept. 29 Chicago Tribune article.
This is not a governor who can be trusted. This is a man who wants to stay as popular as possible and tried to pull a fast one on both his supporters and opponents, which are increasing following each screwup, of which there are also plenty.
After a two-year state budget impasse resulting from a stand-off between Rauner and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, that ended in July, Illinois is still in financial trouble. The new budget still wasn’t up to Rauner’s standards, and the governor vetoed it, which both sides of the aisle in the state House and Senate overrode with a three-fifths majority vote. Rauner was prepared to allow the state to descend into further financial chaos because a couple demands weren’t met by the proposal.
Rauner should not be commended for doing the right thing a couple times. He’s messed up way more. The effects from a lack of funding for state programs and institutions will last for some time and most likely into the next governor’s term.
HB40 is a possibly life-saving law that will keep women who could not previously afford abortions from attempting risky procedures on themselves or visiting cheaper, unlicensed facilities for the operation—a practice that is still far too common, as discussed on Page 29. It is gratifying that this is now law in Illinois, but Rauner is not a hero by any means for signing it.
So go ahead and pat the governor on the back for his recent positive actions toward a couple of marginalized groups, but remember his many more faults and don’t ignore the upcoming gubernatorial election. We need someone in the governor’s mansion who will not be petty and stomp his feet when he doesn’t get his way, putting his state’s future at risk.