'Unapologetically pro-life,' Long rails against abortion bill
It's not just the moral aspect of House Bill 40 that Rep. Jerry Long (R-Streator) finds offensive. He also has trouble understanding why a state in such dire financial straits would want to go deeper in debt.
“I am unapologetically pro-life, but I also struggled to support this bill because of a lack of a constitutionally mandated, balanced budget," he said. "This bill will only add to our state's financial woes."
HB40, which recently passed the House and is now in the Senate, would remove provisions and language in multiple state laws that restrict abortions, including a declaration from the General Assembly that says an “unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person for purposes of the unborn child's right to life.”
It also would mandate that Medicaid and state workers be covered for abortions at any stage of pregnancy.
According to Illinois Right To Life, if HB 40 passes there will be no cap on how many abortions would be covered by Medicaid and state-issued insurance. The organization estimates Illinois taxpayers would foot the bill for more than $21 million in abortion costs through Medicaid.
Illinois currently has $13 billion in unpaid bills, according to Capitol Fax, but Long said even if given the opportunity to balance the budget in exchange for changing his vote on HB40, he wouldn’t do it.
“I believe that everyone should be focused on balancing the budget, but I personally would not change my stance on the matter," he said. "Taxpayers should not pay for someone's elective abortion services."
Long said he received an overwhelming response from constituents about the abortion bill, with the majority asking him to vote against it.
“My constituents made it very clear that they did not want to pay for someone else's abortion, especially when the bill makes it so that taxpayers fund elective abortions as well,” he said.
Long said he spoke with Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Peru), whom he said plans to vote "no" when the Senate takes up the legislation.