Gov. Rauner Changes Position On Expanding Abortion Coverage

Apr 21, 2017

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he no longer supports expanding abortion coverage for state workers and Medicaid recipients because it's too controversial, and Illinois needs to focus on other issues such as creating jobs.

Credit Phil Masterton / WNIJ

At issue is whether Illinois should repeal a prohibition on using state money for the procedure. Rauner supported repeal in 2014, but now says he’d veto such a measure, calling it “divisive” and “controversial.” The repeal is supported primarily by Democrats.

As a Republican candidate for governor, Rauner stated in a 2014 questionnaire that he disliked existing law restricting taxpayer-funded abortion coverage because it “unfairly restricts access based on income.'' He said he'd support a legislative effort to reverse the law.

Asked why he’s changed his position since the campaign, Rauner listed items on his legislative agenda.

“What we need to do is focus on jobs, we need to focus on reducing property taxes, we need to focus on education funding, we need to focus on getting term limits on elected officials,” he told reporters Friday in Chicago. "What we should not do is take on controversial divisive issues right now.''

He says "we need to focus'' on getting a balanced budget, reduced property taxes and lawmaker term limits.

State senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss responded on Twitter, saying that prioritizing term limits over abortion rights is “disgusting.”

Rauner said he supports existing law, which provides coverage in cases of rape, incest and for health and life of the mother.

  • Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey and the Associated Press contributed to this story.