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Judge shoots down HB40 legal challenge

Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018

* Illinois Public Radio

A new law allowing public funding of abortion in Illinois will take effect as scheduled on January 1. That’s after a judge on Thursday ruled against anti-abortion groups who’d sued to block it.

The law would, for the first time in Illinois, allow tax money to be spent on abortions for state employees and women in the Medicaid program.

The groups suing over the law were not making a moral argument. Rather they say it shouldn’t take effect in part because General Assembly’s budget process violated the Illinois Constitution.

They said because the legislation was signed after the budget was passed, there’s no legal authority to use state money for abortions. They also argue that because a senator used a parliamentary hold to block the bill until after the legislature’s constitutional adjournment date on May 31, it cannot take effect until next summer.

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

Pro-life groups wanted to block the Jan. 1 implementation of taxpayer-funded abortions for those on Medicaid or state employee health insurance. But Sangamon County Associate Judge Jennifer Ascher sided with the Illinois Attorney General’s office to dismiss the case Thursday in Springfield.

Ascher ruled the budget issue “is a political question for which I lack jurisdiction,” and said if she granted an emergency injunction it “would result in a violation of the separation of powers. … Legislative disputes must be resolved in the legislative arena. It is inherently a political question and I cannot mandate the process on the estimate of revenues or the appropriation of those revenues.”

She also dismissed the argument that plaintiffs, represented by pro-life groups and some Republican state lawmakers, made that the legislative process was abused by Democrats holding the bill from the governor for four months. […]

The Thomas More Society and other opponents of taxpayer-funded abortions filed two claims in their lawsuit. First, the plaintiffs said the state does not having the funds to pay for what they estimate is $15 million to $30 million of additional costs annually. They said the legislature never passed an official revenue estimate.

“The constitution does not say what form this revenue estimate must take,” Harpreet K. Khera, deputy chief of special litigation at the Illinois Attorney General’s office, countered in court Thursday. “The constitution does not say that this estimate needs to be formally adopted by resolution or adopted in any other way.” […]

The state constitution mandates that, “Proposed expenditures shall not exceed funds estimated to be available for the fiscal year as shown in the budget.”

* Tribune

“After today’s argument, I’m more confident than ever in the truth and the correctness of our position,” Breen said. “I heard nothing today … that caused me to think that somehow, the General Assembly has done its job any more than it had a few days ago.”

John Wolfsmith, an assistant attorney general representing the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and other defendants, claimed Breen’s clients are simply trying to buy time by delaying the law’s implementation to June 1.

The law, signed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in September, expands Medicaid and state group health insurance plans to cover abortions .

Breen contends that taxpayers will be billed for 30,000 elective abortions annually in Illinois. They will cost $1.8 million, according to the state health care agency.

* Personal PAC…

Peter Breen is an anti-choice leader in the Illinois House whose entire legal career is devoted to denying Illinois women access to reproductive health care, including birth control and abortion care. The sole purpose of this lawsuit is to keep outdated and harmful laws in place that put the health and lives of women at risk. HB 40 corrected these dangerous laws and protects women who are victims of rape and incest and whose health and lives are at risk if they do get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term. But none of this matters to anti-choice leaders like Peter Breen. All they want to do is deny the 90% + of Illinois women who use birth control and the 35%+ Illinois women who will have an abortion, access to this vital medical care.

73% of ALL Illinois voters in an April 2017 PPP poll (58% of Republicans, 85% of Democrats, 70% Independents) agreed with the statement: “abortion should remain legal in Illinois as a private decision between a woman and her doctor, not politicians.” In that same poll, 64% of all voters, including 47% of Republicans, agreed with the statement: “Governor Rauner should act to protect the reproductive health care of all women in Illinois.”

Peter Breen’s lawsuit seeking to prevent enforcement of HB 40 is nothing more than playing to most radical fringe right-wing of Illinois voters. HB 40 should remain the law of the land in our great state.

* Thomas More Society…

The Thomas More Society is beginning the process of appealing today’s court decision allowing Illinois officials to implement a law that will put state taxpayers on the hook for paying for tens of thousands of abortions in the New Year. Associate Judge Jennifer M. Ascher of Sangamon County’s Seventh Judicial Circuit Court denied the request for an emergency injunction and temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the controversial HB 40 in the lawsuit, Springfield Right to Life et al v. Felicia Norwood et al.

The taxpayer lawsuit, filed at the end of November in the Sangamon County Circuit Court and heard in court today, 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.

“We respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling and will seek an immediate appeal,” stated Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Special Counsel. “The Illinois Constitution was clearly violated here.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 10:42 am:

    – “The Illinois Constitution was clearly violated here.”–

    Breen’s arguing “constitution” on a hypothetical $1.8 million in spending.

    Yet Breen was a true believer in supporting Rauner every step of the way on spending that actually increased the backlog of bills by $12 billion.

    For the easily confused, $12 billion is a lot more than $1.8 million.

    Maybe Breen should sue himself, on principle.

  2. - Henry Francis - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 10:49 am:

    Good to see the IPI stay out of social policy and focus on the fiscal policy here. $1.2 million. For 30,000 hypothetical abortions. That’s $60 per.

    How much do the Guv’s free motorcycle lessons cost?

  3. - Phil King - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 11:35 am:

    The argument about the effective date seems to be the stronger of the two. Shouldn’t this bill go into effect the following fiscal year?

  4. - Norseman - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 11:53 am:

    No surprise here. The chance of Breen’s far-fetched argument succeeding was worse than a legal Hail Mary.

  5. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 12:01 pm:

    the part about abortion I get, even if I don’t agree. but when the anti choicers go after birth control, well that is just ridiculous.

  6. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 12:02 pm:

    The appropriation argument is a loser. Plenty of programs are legislated and paid for without specific appropriations going into appropriation bills. Besides, DHFS does have an appropriation for physician services which I assume is where this would be paid from.

  7. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 12:18 pm:

    I have to agree with Amalia. If you don’t want women to have abortions, make it easier for us to not get pregnant.

  8. - Smitty Irving - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 1:07 pm:

    Amalia and Cheryl 44 -
    Some anti-abortion advocates (won’t call them pro-life unless they also oppose abortion and are pacifists) call The Pill an abortifacient, and oppose methods that prevent ovulation as violating Natural Law. There is a pro Rick Santorum philosophy amongst them.

  9. - A guy - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 1:23 pm:

    ===35%+ Illinois women who will have an abortion,===

    That number seems awfully high. If it’s even close to accurate, good heavens.

  10. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 2:39 pm:

    ===35%+ Illinois women who will have an abortion,===

    That number seems awfully high.

    Serious question: Why do you presume that you would know how many Illinois women have abortions?

    – MrJM

  11. - A guy - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 4:10 pm:

    Serious answer: I really don’t. But 35% of Illinois women? The number of abortions in Illinois has been going down for a number of years. The availability of Birth Control is easy and inexpensive. STDs alone should urge more caution. If 35% of women in this state are having abortions; then abortion is a form of birth control at a high rate. The numbers just don’t make sense.

    Do you have a better sense? I’m very seriously asking. Illinois Right to Life publishes data. That’s where I usually get the information. Would you concede we have a problem if 35% of women are having abortions?

  12. - JoeMaddon - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 4:42 pm:

    **Would you concede we have a problem if 35% of women are having abortions?**


  13. - A guy - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 4:51 pm:

    Egads Joe, should we go for more?

  14. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 4:55 pm:

    –Egads Joe, should we go for more?–

    Who is “we?” What is your role in these decisions made by individuals?

  15. - theCardinal - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 5:02 pm:

    That math doesn’t add up ? More like $18 million.(plus liability costs that will surely arise and be billed to the people at some point)

  16. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 6:17 pm:

    @Smitty Irving, yep, we know that. we also know that the anti choicers have a streak of “don’t do that girls” in them.

  17. - Smitty Irving - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 6:21 pm:

    My point was the anti-birth control crowd was a much more expansive goal. One people miss.

  18. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 10:22 pm:

    yes Smitty Irving, we get that. they don’t want to stop pregnancy in any way, they don’t want women to have sex unless it is for babies, we get it. it’s all ridiculous.

  19. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Jan 3, 18 @ 8:38 am:

    “Would you concede we have a problem if 35% of women are having abortions?”

    The impediments that anti-choice activists place between women and access to affordable birth-control certainly are a problem.

    – MrJM

  20. - A guy - Wednesday, Jan 3, 18 @ 9:24 am:

    Mr.JM, there is no serious impediment to affordable birth control. A condom can be had for a buck, less if you buy more than one. I did check that number of 35% of Illinois women and it is in fact wrong. Approx. 13M Illinois residents, approx. half are women, approx 40% of them of child bearing age. The number of abortions performed don’t even come close to bearing out the number 35%. Closer to 6-7% taking into account a number of women who have this procedure are repeating it. So that number is a huge lie.

    Again, I’m Pro-life (anti abortion is OK with me if that helps you make your point) Aside from the moral issue I have with this, adding any procedures to the Medicaid system which is already deeply financially troubled is irresponsible.

    Since there are so many ardent Pro Choicers like yourself out there, why don’t you start a fund to pay for these procedures since it doesn’t violate your conscience one iota?

  21. - A guy - Wednesday, Jan 3, 18 @ 9:25 am:

    ==- wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 4:55 pm:

    –Egads Joe, should we go for more?–

    Who is “we?” What is your role in these decisions made by individuals?===

    At the moment, my role is to finance these objectionable procedures against my moral beliefs.

  22. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 3, 18 @ 1:15 pm:

    –At the moment, my role is to finance these objectionable procedures against my moral beliefs.–

    Really? What are you out so far? And don’t your “moral beliefs” also apply to contraception? Are you a cafeteria type?

    –I did check that number of 35% of Illinois women and it is in fact wrong. Approx. 13M Illinois residents, approx. half are women, approx 40% of them of child bearing age. The number of abortions performed don’t even come close to bearing out the number 35%. Closer to 6-7% taking into account a number of women who have this procedure are repeating it. So that number is a huge lie.–

    Where did you “check?” (I kid. I know you just made it all up; math, along with research, ain’t your thing, by the way).

    –The U.S. abortion rate has fallen dramatically, by 25 percent, in recent years. The procedure continues to be common: 1 in 4 women will have an abortion by 45, according to a report published in the American Journal of Public Health on Thursday.–

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