Local Editorials

Our View: Tax dollars shouldn't pay for abortions

We don’t need to spend public funds paying for abortions in Illinois.

Legal abortion long has been the law of the land since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. It is likely to remain the law.

However, there is a substantial group of people who object to abortion on moral grounds. They sincerely believe abortion is equivalent to killing children.

They consider it odious.

Out of respect to those people, public funding of abortion procedures in Illinois has been limited to abortions that are deemed “medically necessary” to protect the health of the mother, and that funding is provided as a result of a court order.

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 600 women die each year from pregnancy and childbirth-related reasons, a figure that would be higher were abortion not possible.

Saving a life is a good use for public funds. But we don’t need government to go beyond that.

A group of Democratic state representatives disagrees. They have proposed House Bill 4013, which would delete language that stipulates public health benefits programs, including for state employees, cannot be used for abortion or other pregnancy termination services.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he would veto the bill and we agree with that stance.

A change in the rules could lead to the state paying to terminate many pregnancies. 

Changes to state law prohibiting public funding for abortion took effect in 1980. In the yearlong period that ended June 30, 1978, public funds paid for more than 12,700 abortions in Illinois, at a cost of $1.8 million. Abortion opponents argue those numbers could be higher today.

Even if they were half that, it’s still more than 6,000 abortions the state could help finance.

Abortion is a thorny issue. Courts repeatedly have found it constitutionally protected for decades. Despite its legality, there is still a raging moral debate and wide range of public opinion on the issue ranging from those who support abortion under any condition to those who personally oppose it but support a woman’s right to choose to those who want the practice outlawed entirely.

There’s nothing legally preventing a state employee from having an abortion. No one is taking away their choice. But forcing residents who have strong moral opposition to pay for them is slippery slope.

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