Taxpayer lawsuit filed in Springfield to stop Illinois’ abortion public funding bill

Catechist Joanne Dorn (right) and members of the confirmation class from St. Luke Parish in Eureka take part in a Life Chain in this 2016 file photo. A controversial taxpayer-funded abortion bill has prompted a taxpayer lawsuit filed Nov. 30 against Illinois officials. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

SPRINGFIELD — A taxpayer lawsuit against State of Illinois officials was filed in Sangamon County Court on Nov. 30 in an effort to stop the implementation of House Bill 40, which expands taxpayer-subsidized abortions in the state.

“The people of Illinois totally reject taxpayer-funded abortions,” said Peter Breen, special counsel for the Thomas More Society which filed the taxpayer lawsuit. He called it a counterattack against the controversial legislation signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Sept. 28.

Four state representatives and four state senators signed the lawsuit. Among the nine pro-life groups listed on the complaint were two from within the Diocese of Peoria — Henry County Right to Life and Knox County Right to Life.

The Springfield diocese is also listed among the lawsuit’s supporters.

TWO LEGAL CHALLENGES

Apart from moral objections held by many taxpayers in the state, the complaint levels two legal challenges against HB 40:

  • That the General Assembly has not set aside funds to pay for the elective abortions covered in the legislation, including for those on Medicaid or state employee health insurance. Breen estimates that Illinois taxpayers will be forced to pay for 20,000 to 30,000 abortions per year under the new rules.
  • While the legislation is set to take effect Jan. 1, the lawsuit argues it can’t legally be implemented until June 1 because of deadlines outlined in the Illinois Constitution.

“Regardless of your feelings about abortion, it is incredibly fiscally irresponsible to enact a law designed to spend millions of dollars that Illinois does not have,” said Breen, who also serves as state representative for Illinois’ 48th District.

The Thomas More Society, based in Chicago and Omaha, is a not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty.

An announcement from the organization explained that Illinois has a tradition of allowing taxpayer lawsuits, which are brought by private individuals to protect the public treasury. The “petition for leave” in this case is set for a hearing before Associate Judge Brian T. Otwell at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 7 at the Sangamon County Courthouse.

Other pro-life groups listed on the complaint include the Pro-Life Action League, Springfield Right to Life, Clinton County Citizens for Life, Lake County Right to Life Committee, Morgan County Right to Life, Illinois Right to Life Action, and Illinois Federation for Right to Life.

The Illinois legislators bringing the lawsuit and their districts include state representatives Barbara Wheeler (64th), Mark Batinick (97th), Steve Reick (63rd), and Keith Wheeler (50th), as well as state senators Dale Fowler (59th), Kyle McCarter (54th), Dan McConchie (26th) and Paul Schimpf (58th).

The Catholic Conference of Illinois has said House Bill 40 represents “a grave moral error” and decried Gov. Rauner and legislators who supported the “misguided legislation.”

The full “petition for leave” may be viewed here.

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