Politics & Policy

Rauner’s Deception

Rauner during his 2014 gubernatorial campaign (Reuters photo: Jim Young)

Governor Bruce Rauner has signed a radical pro-abortion bill into law in Illinois, and he lied to the state’s voters in order to put himself into the position to do so.

Rauner, a successful private-equity investor and philanthropist, sought the Republican nomination for the governorship of his troubled state as an open — indeed, enthusiastic — supporter of unrestricted abortion. That is a difficult position for any Republican to occupy, even in abortion-friendly, Democratic-dominated states such as Illinois.

Rauner insisted that, in spite of his views on abortion — and in spite of the views of his wife, a longtime advocate for abortion rights — he, in his own words, had “no social agenda.” He did not mean to advance abortion rights or work to restrict them, he said, but intended to bring his businessman’s acumen to bear on the financial and economic troubles of the beleaguered state.

That is a superficially attractive position for fiscally oriented Republican candidates in blue states: Most of the major action on abortion is happening at the federal rather than the state level, thanks in no small part to constitutionally indefensible Supreme Court decisions that have made the regulation of abortion a national question. But as recent experiences in states from Illinois to Texas have made clear, abortion is a question that governors and state legislators cannot in reality avoid. There is no escaping it.

Conservatives ought to have learned by now that those who are not with us on abortion are, in most cases, not with us at all, and that promises of neutrality on the life question cannot be trusted.

Rauner, we now learn, does have a social agenda, one that is obnoxious to many of the conservatives who took him at his word on the campaign trail. It is a social agenda that is morally repugnant both on the fundamental question of abortion and on the secondary question of public funding for it.

The bill Rauner has signed into law was advertised as a measure to ensure that abortion would remain legal in Illinois in the event the Supreme Court should strike down Roe v. Wade. But it does a great deal more than that: It secures a longtime goal of the abortion lobby by putting state taxpayers on the hook for funding abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Under this law, not only could a child be put to death an hour before it would otherwise be born — which is monstrous enough on its own — the people of the state of Illinois would be implicated in that crime by underwriting it with their tax dollars.

Governor Rauner should have listened to his own office and vetoed this bill.

Rauner’s own office had earlier said that the governor did not support the bill because of the question of taxpayer funding of abortion. Governor Rauner should have listened to his own office and vetoed this bill instead of signing it into law.

There are good-faith disagreements about abortion. But third-trimester abortions? Abortions at nine months? Commandeering the assets of those who regard abortion as a grave crime against humanity to pay for it? And lying about one’s intentions on the campaign trail? There isn’t much good faith to be found in any of that.

Governor Rauner’s judgment in this matter is defective and his deception is shameful.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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