Abortions will be covered by state health insurance and Medicaid under a bill that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Thursday.
“No woman should be forced to make a different decision than another woman would make purely based on income,” the Republican said during a news conference, after which he signed the measure privately.
He is running for re-election in 2018, and the move could prompt Republicans to put up a challenger in the primary.
The majority-Democrat General Assembly approved the measure in May but delayed sending it to Rauner until this week in part because he has changed his mind about support of the plan.
During the 2014 campaign, Rauner said he’d support expanding coverage for abortions. But in April, he said he opposed the idea, adding that the state should focus on improving the economy.
State GOP chairman Tim Schneider said he was “frustrated and saddened” by Rauner’s decision to sign the bill. He also said he believed it was Democrats’ intent to “use the issue to divide our party” and elect a gubernatorial candidate next year who’s backed by longtime House Speaker Mike Madigan.
The Catholic Conference of Illinois, which opposes abortion, said Rauner “has broken his word” and will “force Illinois taxpayers to pay for the taking of human life.”
The legislation, which takes effect immediately, also removes language in state law that could criminalize abortion if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned. Democrats adopted the new provision after President Donald Trump expressed his opposition to abortion.
The state Department of Healthcare and Family Services estimates the annual taxpayer cost of abortions under the measure would be $1.8 million.