Reject public funding of abortion in state, urge Illinois bishops

As Illinois lawmakers returned to Springfield on April 14 following a two-week spring break, they were urged by the Catholic bishops of Illinois to reject public funding of abortion as outlined in legislation up for House floor debate and vote.

The legislation, House Bill 4013, removes the current prohibition on state employees’ health insurance plans from paying for elective abortions, as well as the ban on using taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions in the state’s Medicaid program.

Additionally, the proposal removes the ban on state-funded grants to organizations that counsel for or perform abortions. Current law calls for those grants to go to organizations that help women experiencing problem pregnancies.

“The provisions of House Bill 4013 will force all taxpayers, even those opposed as a matter of conscience, to participate in funding the abortion industry,” the bishops wrote in an April 14 letter to members of the Illinois House. It was signed by the six ordinaries in the state, including Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, of Peoria.

“This is a radical shift in public policy,” the bishops continued, ” as it totally disregards the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans steadfastly have opposed contributing their personal human resources through tax dollars for the destruction of innocent human life.”

The bishops note that public sentiment stands against public funding of abortion, citing a nationwide March 2014 CNN/ORC poll of more than 1,000 adults showing opposition outranking support by 17 points, 56 percent to 39 percent. Additionally, the federal government has consistently rejected using taxpayer money to fund abortions through the Hyde amendment to annual appropriations bills.

House Bill 4013 passed the House Human Services Committee on March 18 on a partisan 8-6 vote.

The full text of the letter — in English, Spanish and Polish — may be viewed on the website of the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

Others signing the letter included Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville; Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet; Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford; and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield.

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