Springfield | Surrounded by state officials and Planned Parenthood representatives, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order Jan. 22 to enforce a law directing state employee health insurance plans to include abortion services.
Pritzker’s order directs the Department of Central Management Services to review all state employee health insurance plans for any barriers to abortion services. If any are found, recommendations are to be presented to bring plans into compliance within 60 days.
“On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I’m proud to declare under my administration, the State of Illinois will be the most progressive state in the nation when it comes to guaranteeing the right to choose for every single woman,” said Pritzker, who was inaugurated Jan. 14.
The move was disappointing to pro-life advocates wary of how the new governor could seek to expand abortion rights in Illinois. “It’s so discouraging to see Gov. Pritzker and state officials celebrate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade with Planned Parenthood,” said David Smith, executive director of conservative non-profit Illinois Family Institute.
“We really need to pray for Gov. Pritzker to have a change of heart and mind on this issue and to come to value the sanctity of human life.”
Before taking office, Pritzker was a vocal supporter of Illinois House Bill 40, the measure now enforced by his executive order. The controversial bill, which provides taxpayer-subsidized abortions for women covered by Medicaid and state employee insurance, was signed into law by then-Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2017.
The Thomas More Legal Society filed suit against HB40 in state court, arguing the law violates the Illinois constitution’s balanced budget requirement by providing funding that wasn’t previously set aside by lawmakers. In December 2018, the non-profit law firm appealed the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.
In Illinois, abortion is illegal once a fetus is viable, generally around 23 or 24 weeks. But the state’s expanding stance on abortion is drawing women from states with tougher abortion laws, Smith said.
“Two new abortions clinics have opened in the Chicago area,” he noted, citing a clinic in Flossmor, near the Indiana border, and one in Skokie. This comes at a time when “people are fleeing Illinois because of economic conditions,” Smith added. In contrast, he said, “the unborn being aborted are potential taxpayers who would contribute to the government.”
Nationwide, abortion rates have declined in the 21st century. The Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, found that between 2011 and 2014, total abortions performed in the U.S. fell 14%. More recent figures are expected later this year.
Meanwhile, the state of New York has approved the most liberal abortion legislation to date, allowing the termination through all nine months of a pregnancy. Gov. Andrew Cuomo “celebrated” the Reproductive Health Act, calling it the most “progressive” abortion law in the nation. WORLD’s Emily Belz reported at the signing Cuomo was “wearing a pink tie, cracking jokes about how many years it took to pass the law.” And the Catholic church next to the state house to the NY governor’s mansion “tolled its bells in mourning for the babies’ lives that would be lost.”
Cuomo’s own religious leaders in the Catholic church have questioned his faith. “Your advocacy of extreme abortion legislation is completely contrary to the teachings of our pope and our Church,” Albany Bishop Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger wrote to Cuomo in an open letter. “I shudder to think of the consequences this law will wreak.”
– Lisa Misner, with additional info from Fox News and WORLD magazine