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Abortions in Illinois Increased 7 Percent after Law Expanding Taxpayer Funding

A woman receives an ultrasound during a prenatal exam. (Joshua Lott/Reuters)

Illinois saw a sharp uptick in abortions in 2018 after the state expanded access and taxpayer funding for the procedure.

About 3,000 more abortions were performed in Illinois in 2018, a seven percent spike since the previous year, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. A total of 42,441 abortions were performed, compared to 39,329 in 2017.

The increase came after Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed a law in September 2017 expanding taxpayer-funded abortions for women covered by Medicaid and state-employee insurance after originally threatening to veto the bill. His decision sparked the ire of members of his party, who argued that taxpayers who oppose abortion on moral grounds should not be forced to pay for it.

“I believe that a woman living with limited financial means should not be put in the position where she has to choose something different than a woman of higher income would be able to choose,” Rauner said at the time.

Republican state senators called Rauner a “failed governor” whose “flip-flopping on this issue raises serious questions on whether the governor’s word can be trusted on other matters.”

The increase in abortions largely came from women who live in Illinois, with about 4,000 more Illinois residents undergoing the procedure. However, Illinois also saw more women travel from other states to obtain the procedure, with 5,668 out-of-state patients in 2018, up from 5,528 in 2017.

Pro-life advocates argue that the increase is due to the state making abortion more affordable while other states have cracked down on abortion with restrictive laws. Several states have passed “heartbeat bills” designed the trigger court challenges in hopes of overturning Roe vs. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide.

“We knew that abortions would continue to increase as taxpayer funding of abortions took hold, but seeing an increase of nearly 4,000 more Illinois babies aborted is shocking,” said former Republican state representative Peter Breen, now vice president and senior counsel of the pro-life Thomas More Society.

Data for abortions performed in the state last year has not yet been released.

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