Today, the Thomas More Society filed a taxpayer lawsuit against State of Illinois officials in a counterattack against House Bill 40, which requires public funding of tens of thousands of elective abortions. The taxpayer lawsuit, filed in the Sangamon County Circuit Court, is brought on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Illinois taxpayers, represented by county and statewide pro-life organizations, the Springfield Catholic Diocese, and a group of Illinois legislators from across the state.
“The people of Illinois totally reject taxpayer-funded abortions,” stated Thomas More Society Special Counsel Peter Breen, who drafted the lawsuit. “Under HB 40, Illinoisans will be forced to pay for 20,000 to 30,000 abortions per year with their tax dollars. Even apart from the sincere moral objections that many folks have to paying for abortions, there is no money in this year’s Illinois state budget to pay for them. And, because of games played by Senate Democrats, in holding HB 40 until late September, after the May 31 cutoff for legislative action, this bill can’t be effective until June 1, not January 1.” Breen also serves as state representative for Illinois’ 48th District.
The complaint levels two challenges against HB 40. First, the General Assembly has not set aside funds to pay for HB 40’s tens of thousands of elective abortions, and there’s no money available to pay for those abortions and still be within the Balanced Budget requirements of the Illinois Constitution. Second, despite efforts to make HB 40 effective January 1, 2018, it cannot come into effect until June 1, because it did not pass out of the Senate until September 25, 2017. The Illinois Constitution imposes a May 31 cut-off date for General Assembly action for bills to go into effect faster.
If implemented, despite its illegality, HB 40 would force every Illinoisan to pay for free abortions for those on Medicaid and state employee health insurance. This would apply through the full nine months of pregnancy and for any reason, even when the latest scientific research has shown that the unborn child can feel pain and survive outside the womb.
There is no cap on the number of abortions that could be covered under Medicaid and no cap on the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on these procedures. Based on recent figures from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services showing a cost of up to $1000 per Medicaid abortion, state government spending on abortions could range anywhere from $15 million to $30 million.
The State of Illinois is unique in having a tradition of allowing taxpayer lawsuits, which are brought by private individuals to protect the public treasury. Illinois law requires such a suit to be brought by a petition for leave to file a complaint. The petition in this case has been set for hearing before Associate Judge Brian T. Otwell, on Thursday, December 7, at 10:30 a.m., at the Sangamon County Courthouse.
“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. “The state legislative process has steps that must be correctly followed in order to prevent budget-busting laws like this from being ramrodded through. It is part of our civic process of checks and balances.”
The Illinois legislators bringing the lawsuit include:
● Representative Barbara Wheeler, District 64
● Representative Mark Batinick, District 97
● Representative Steve Reick, District 63
● Representative Keith Wheeler, District 50
● Senator Dale Fowler, District 59
● Senator Kyle McCarter, District 54
● Senator Dan McConchie, District 26
● Senator Paul Schimpf, District 58
The pro-life groups listed on the complaint include:
● Pro-Life Action League, Inc.
● Springfield Right to Life
● Clinton County Citizens For Life
● Henry County Right to Life, Inc.
● Knox County Right to Life, NFP
● Lake County Right to Life Committee, Inc.
● Morgan County Right to Life, Inc., NFP
● Pro-Life Action League, Inc.
● Illinois Right to Life Action
● Illinois Federation for Right to Life
The above listed legislators and groups are joined in this action by:
● Diocese of Springfield In Illinois
Read the Petition for Leave to File a Taxpayer Action to Restrain and Enjoin the Disbursement of Public Funds and the Taxpayer Complaint to Restrain and Enjoin the Disbursement of Public Funds here.
Seems like a long shot at best, but you never know with the courts.
Passing HB 40 was an important milestone in the protection of a woman’s right to choose. Now a far-right-wing organization wants to undo the progress made by the Illinois General Assembly and throw out this vital law. They must be stopped.
This lawsuit demonstrates how critical it is that we elect an Attorney General who will fight for a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices. As your Attorney General, I will be a champion for women’s rights, including the right to access contraception and safe, legal abortion.
I know that Attorney General Madigan will stand up strongly to this wrongheaded lawsuit, and I feel confident that our courts will overturn this extreme attempt to endanger women’s health in Illinois.