Guest Editorial: Bryant Urges Governor to Veto HB 40

An open letter to my constituents and the media:

Toward the end of last April, as the budget impasse was dragging through its second full year, I rose on the House floor to voice my total opposition to a bill that would vastly expand access to elective, taxpayer-funded abortions. The bill in question was HB 40, sponsored by Democrat State Representative Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago. During a more than hour-long debate on the bill, many of my House Republican colleagues joined me in speaking forcefully against the bill. We cited our faith in God, our love and compassion for the unborn, and the potential burdensome financial cost to the taxpayers of the State of Illinois as our main reasons for opposing the bill.

My opposition to HB 40 also goes to the core of my faith. I believe a life begins at conception and no one has a right to take that life. The sponsors of HB 40 routinely introduce legislation and support bills to use Medicaid dollars to help the most vulnerable among us. The same value set that drives those votes does not square with using Medicaid dollars to terminate the lives of the weakest, most helpless, and vulnerable of those among us, the unborn.

Under questioning from House Republicans on the House Floor that day, Representative Feigenholtz confirmed that HB 40 does in fact seek to expand the use of Medicaid to pay for elective abortions. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) has estimated that if the bill is signed into law, it could result in an extra $60 million of Medicaid spending to cover the costs related to abortive procedures per year. This added cost would come at a time when Illinois has its first budget in more than two and a half years, and while we currently still have $16 billion in unpaid bills.

The bill’s sponsor also admitted that the measure allows women to choose abortions for any reason, during any stage of pregnancy. If they happened to be a Medicaid recipient or a State employee covered under the state’s group health insurance plan, that would mean HB 40 would make taxpayer funded abortions available on demand. The sponsor also admitted that the bill would allow for taxpayer funding of partial birth abortions as well.  I cannot in good conscience support this attempt to expand Illinois taxpayers’ already heavy financial burden to fund this barbaric practice.

Despite our objections, HB 40 passed both the House and Senate. During that time, a spokesperson for Governor Rauner publicly declared that the Governor intended to veto the bill. After that statement was made, an immediate hold was placed on the bill by the Senate sponsor.
On Monday of this week, State Senator Don Harmon released the parliamentary hold that had been placed on HB 40. The bill has now been sent to the Governor. The Governor has 60 days to either sign the bill or veto it.

I have implored Governor Rauner to veto HB 40 in its entirety. He had previously assured me and my House Republican colleagues that oppose the bill that he would in fact veto the measure. The purpose of this editorial is to both educate the people of my district on the moral and financial pitfalls of HB 40, and to once again publicly call on Governor Rauner to issue a total and complete veto of this bill.

Terri Bryant
State Representative – 115th District