Rauner pledges to sign abortion bill after months of indecision


Source: Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks in Springfield on Aug. 17. On Thursday, Rauner announced his decision to sign an abortion bill, which drew sharp criticism from his party’s conservatives.

Rishika Dugyala, City Editor

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Thursday his decision to sign an abortion bill, one he promised in April to veto to appease party conservatives.

Rauner’s initial stance wavered after pushback from state Democrats and advocacy groups. In a news release, he said while he understands and respects the opinions on both sides, women — especially poor women — should be able make their own choices.

“I have also spent a lot of time meeting with women across Illinois and listening to their personal stories, particularly low-income women who do not have the same luxuries that many of us have,” Rauner said. “Their stories and their struggles are real and they have touched me in a very personal way. They deserve to have a choice as much as anyone else.”

The bill will ensure access to legal and safe abortions in Illinois should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn its ruling in Roe v. Wade. The legislation would also repeal provisions limiting health care options for women covered under Medicare and in-state worker health plans.

Rauner said his current position is not new; he campaigned with an acknowledged support for abortion rights in 2014.

With re-election nearing, Rauner returned to his campaign promise, angering conservatives counting on his veto. According to the Chicago Tribune, some immediately denounced his decision to sign the bill.

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti said in a news release Thursday that as an anti-abortion Republican, she disagreed with Rauner’s decision to sign the bill.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for a 15-year-old refugee who chose to have me and keep me,” Sanguinetti said. “I realize this bill is a political ploy to divide the people of Illinois. While I disagree with the Governor on this, we must focus on our areas of agreement — enacting real reforms we need to turn Illinois around.”

And though many Democrats are pleased with the act, state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and his running mate in the upcoming gubernatorial election, state Rep. Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford), said in a Thursday news release that Illinois needs a governor who will not “play games with women’s health care.”

“We were proud advocates in the legislature,” they said. “But as Rauner’s past few months of flip-flopping have proven, this decision was driven by politics, not morality.”

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