Illinois gubernatorial candidates will soon receive a written pledge in the mail asking them to support the new law expanding abortion coverage — and oppose any push to repeal it.
After Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law providing abortion coverage under state health insurance and Medicaid, some — like state Rep. Jeanne Ives who ran against him on the GOP ticket in the primary — said it showed Rauner’s position on the issue is too liberal. According to Ives, the governor's decision encouraged her to run as his opponent.
Several lawmakers in the General Assembly have filed three different proposals meant to repeal the law, but none were assigned to a committee for further consideration. Personal PAC, a Chicago-based pro-choice group, and some lawmakers said they want the guarantee that these don't get approved by the future governor. The group plans to send Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker a pledge to establish this guarantee.
Terry Cosgrove — president and CEO of Personal PAC — said the pledge will ask the candidates to keep the law as is until at least 2023. "The signed pledge will assure Personal PAC and the overwhelmingly pro-choice majority across Illinois that we, and the press, will have a vehicle to hold the next Governor of Illinois accountable — in writing," Cosgrove said Thursday in a press conference held in Springfield.
When Rauner said he would not sign HB40 — as the abortion proposal was called — pro-choice groups reminded him of the 2014 candidate questionnaire he had filled out for Personal PAC. In it, then-candidate Rauner stated his support for reproductive rights. State Rep. Sara Feigenhotlz, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored HB40, said that’s what ultimately held him accountable.
Feigenholtz said supporters had worked hard to push the legislation through and will not allow for a repeal to happen. Sometimes, she said, that means making sure all bases are covered. “Perhaps putting it in writing may seem to others a little too extreme, but people who are in power and make commitments, stay with those commitments," she said.
The written pledge will be sent via certified registered receipt return mail to each candidate's home address. Both have until Friday, June 22, 2018 at noon to respond.
Pritzker's campaign said, "he will definitely sign the pledge". Rauner's campaign has yet to respond.