EFFINGHAM — The National Life Chain in Effingham came just days after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation on House Bill 40 to allow state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions.
The event draws pro-life supporters across the United States and Canada. Local pro-life supporters lined the intersection near Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Fayette Avenue and Henrietta Street on Sunday. An estimated 150 people stood quietly, while holding pro-life posters.
“The whole goal today is to end abortion,” said Karla Slifer, event organizer in Effingham.
In a statement posted Thursday on Illinois.gov website, Rauner said, “I understand abortion is a very emotional issue with passionate opinions on both sides. I sincerely respect those who believe abortion is morally wrong. They are good people motivated by principle.
“But, as I have always said, I believe a woman should have the right to make that choice herself and I do not believe that choice should be determined by income. I do not think it’s fair to deny poor women the choice that wealthy women have”
State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), who opposed the bill, pointed out Rauner’s support of the legislation was a departure from his previous stance.
“Last April, (Rauner) pledged he would veto HB 40, legislation that would pay for abortions — even elective abortions — for those on Medicaid and covered by state health insurance.”
Rauner stated in a press release that his decision was thought through after hearing from both sides.
Judy Repking, chairman of the bishop’s Pro Life Committee, was among those who declared her disappointment in Rauner’s decision on Thursday to allow state funds to cover abortions.
“We as taxpayers will now be funding abortions for those who can’t afford it,” said Repking. “It’s a sad deal. Our state is in financial crisis and we cannot fund another entitlement program. And then there’s the issue of life. We believe life is sacred at conception.”
Repking said this bill will not help women. She believes there are better options that are not promoted at the state level.
“There are more people who believe in life than those who believe abortion is an option,” said Repking. “There are crisis pregnancy centers who can offer these women options — so many other viable options.”
Planned Parenthood of Illinois President and CEO Jennifer Welch called the governor’s move a win.
“HB 40 ends the discriminatory practice of denying women coverage based on how much money she makes or where she works,” said Welch in a press release. “Whether she has private or government-funded health insurance, every woman should have access to a full range of pregnancy-related care, including abortion.”
“By enacting HB 40, Illinois is sending a very clear message — a woman, not politicians, should make decisions when it comes to her own pregnancy,” said Welch.
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus was among several Republicans who expressed disappointment in Rauner’s decision to sign HB 40.
“We must protect life and defend life at every stage,” said Shimkus in a release. “Today I am participating in the Life Chain in Collinsville to pray for those affected by abortion and to bring an end to abortion. I am proud to stand up for the unborn and will always defend their right to life.”
State Rep. John Cavaletto (R-Salem) was another Republican voicing disappointment.
“I’m disappointed with the actions of the governor today to expand spending public dollars on a procedure that I oppose and is opposed by the majority of people in my district. I will work with other conservatives to draft legislation and reverse this new law,” said Cavaletto.
Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) called the new law radical.
“The governor’s decision is completely opposite of the platform adopted by Illinois Republican Party that elected him. He has disgraced the party and the citizens of Illinois. In my opinion, he should not run for re-election,” he said.
Repking said many in the pro-life movement are disappointed because the governor had said he wouldn’t sign this legislation.
Locally, Phil Niemerg said Rauner’s wife, Diana, has always been pro-choice, although the governor himself campaigned as pro-life.
“I think that the children need to be reached,” said Niemerg. “I can’t change the adults’ minds, but the younger generation needs to hear the truth. It’s pretty obvious to me. Killing a baby? Come on.”
Gabby Miller, 18, of Effingham called the governor’s decision “terrible.”
“I’m praying for him,” said Miller.