CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday defended his threat to veto legislation that would allow Medicaid and state health insurance coverage of abortions, after saying during his campaign he wanted to lift such restrictions.
During the 2014 campaign, Rauner said he wanted to reverse a law that restricts abortion coverage under the state Medicaid plan and state employees’ health insurance programs.
However, last week, the governor’s office said he would veto legislation that would eliminate those restrictions and remove a so-called “trigger provision” in existing law that would make abortions illegal should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the historic Roe v. Wade ruling.
The head of the Personal PAC abortion rights group blasted Rauner as a liar for his pledge to veto legislation he once said he supported.
Questioned by reporters Friday, Rauner said his veto threat is not a change of heart on abortion rights, but a matter of “focus.”
“Expanding taxpayer funding is a very divisive issue. It’s a very controversial issue. What we need to do is focus in Illinois. We need to protect existing Illinois law, but we need to focus on jobs. We need to focus on reducing property taxes. We need to focus on education funding. We need to focus on getting term limits on elected officials. These are difficult issues. We need to focus,” he said.
Reporters pressed the governor on what those issues have to do with women’s reproductive rights.
“It has everything to do with focus. What we should not do is take on controversial, divisive issues right now; when we don’t have a balanced budget, when we do not have proper school funding, when we do not have economic growth and job creation. We should not take on divisive, controversial issues; and expanding taxpayer funding is a controversial, divisive issue,” he said.
The governor said he still believes in protecting a woman’s right to choose, but can’t afford a contentious debate right now.