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Republicans, Activists Sue Over Abortion Law

Brian Mackey/WUIS
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A group of state lawmakers and anti-abortion groups sued the state of Illinois Thursday. They’re trying to block a new law that will allow state money to pay for some abortions.

Brian Mackey reports on a lawsuit intended to block a controversial abortion-funding law.

The law extends coverage for abortion to the Medicaid program, and to health insurance plans for state and university employees.

The lawsuit argues the legislature did not properly approve money for this purpose.

Peter Breen was an anti-abortion lawyer before becoming a Republican state representative in 2015.

He wrote the legal brief in the case, and says because the law was approved after the budget was passed — Illinois cannot legally pay for abortions.

“So the purpose of our lawsuit is to say look … you’ve not put any money aside for this year," Breen said in a telephone interview. "And so it can’t happen this fiscal year, at least to the end of June."

He said Illinois lawmakers need to debate spending on such a controversial topic, especially "when we don’t have money to fund core government services."

But Democrats, like state Sen. Heather Steans, from Chicago, says the lawsuit is really about keeping women from excercising their legal rights.

"I firmly believe that all women should have the opportunity to make their own reproductive decisions regardless of their income level or employer," Steans said in a statement. "These choices should not be limited to the wealthy.”

The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says it will defend the law in court, but otherwise declined to comment.

A hearing is set for Thursday, December 7 at the Sangamon County Courthouse in Springfield.

Copyright 2017 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Brian Mackey covers Illinois state government and politics from the WUIS Statehouse bureau. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He can be reached at (217) 206-6020.
Brian Mackey
Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.