Medicaid Will Now Cover Abortion for Low-Income Women in Illinois. Take That, Hyde!

Something happened yesterday. Something that may seem like a fairy tale in the current political moment. A Republican governor signed a bill to lift bans on insurance coverage for abortion for low-income women enrolled in Medicaid. The bill would also protect the right to abortion in Illinois — even if the unthinkable happens and Roe v. Wade is overturned.

In signing HB 40, Gov. Bruce Rauner made history: Illinois is the first state in decades to lift its restriction on Medicaid coverage of abortion. That this incredible leap forward for the movement to lift abortion coverage bans happened in Illinois is poetic. After all, it was Illinois Rep. Henry Hyde who, 41 years ago tomorrow, first passed the Hyde Amendment, banning Medicaid from covering abortion and launching four decades of attacks on women’s health and decision-making.

The stunning victory for reproductive justice comes on the heels of months of campaigning by local groups to persuade the governor to sign the bill. Because of this new law, women enrolled in Illinois Medicaid will no longer be barred from using their coverage for abortion. Put simply: The amount of money in your bank account will no longer determine whether you can get an abortion if you need one.

House Bill 40 also removes provisions from Illinois law that deny abortion coverage to some state employees. This bill backs up our state’s values by ending political interference with insurance coverage for abortion and ensuring that a woman isn’t treated differently just because of her income or where she gets her insurance. It is simply common sense: When health programs for women with low incomes cover birth control and abortion — not just childbirth — it’s good for them and it’s good for society as a whole.

Illinois Rep. Henry Hyde’s shameful legacy of banning insurance coverage for abortion has left a trail of devastation in its wake. Research shows that restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion forces one in four poor women seeking abortion to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. And a woman who wants to get an abortion but is denied one is more likely to fall into poverty than a woman who can get the abortion she seeks. For a low-income woman in Illinois, forced to make an impossible decision between paying for food or rent or paying for an abortion, this is about health, economic security, and being able to live with dignity.

This victory is about more than Illinois: It’s also a powerful message to those across the country who are resisting and persisting. We can make a difference. We can pass laws that support and respect women. We can persuade lawmakers to do the right thing.

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Bravo, sir. Congratulations, Illinois.


By “shameful”, the ACLU means that Henry Hyde’s amendment had saved millions of lives in the last 40 years from the evil of abortion. Thank you Rep. Hyde!


You know what saved even more women from seeking abortions? The ACA's provision that all insurance plans cover birth control without a copay, including long-acting forms of birth control, . Look at the statistics. Banning abortion doesn't reduce the number of abortions nearly as much as providing women with affordable long-acting birth control. I remember the days of "Ask for Jane". Look it up.

Anne Adamson

Another step to women everywhere having the right to control her own body. Wonderful news.


Illinois ranks among the lowest states in the nation (47/50) for its services to the physically and developmentally disabled. My neighbor has been waiting almost 2 years for desperately needed healthcare service for her severely disabled daughter. I share her rage that Governor Rauner would prioritize free abortions over support for those with disabilities. What a disgusting message to send to the poor – we'd rather have your children dead than take care of them. Illinois already has the largest number of abortions in the Midwest. And now we will have an additional 12,000 – to 20,000 more abortions each year - with taxpayers footing the bill. Great job, ACLU!


When Henry Hyde was an attorney in Illinois, my mother sought his counsel on divorcing my father. He solicited her for sex, during her most vulnerable time. Story speaks for itself.

David C Busby

This is a double win for progressives, as it almost ensures a Democrat will win the next race for Governor of IL.


abortion just... doesn't seem right to me.

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

Something needs to be done about the secret practice of using advanced DNA. technology to detect and abort gay fetuses. This is the worst form of discrimination ever.

K. Love

In my early 20s, I worked for the National Abortion Federation on a hotline that helped connect low-income women with unplanned pregnancies who couldn't afford an abortion with resources to help her do so. The experience changed me forever. The women calling in were truly desperate. Some had been raped, or were victims of spousal abuse. Some had been using a birth control method that failed. Some weren't able to afford birth control, and were using natural methods that didn't work for them. The stories and situations were diverse, but all these women had one thing in common: they weren't emotionally, physically, or financially equipped to bring a child into the world. To listen to these women swallow their pride and ask for help - to hear the desperation in their voices, and to know that the system in this country had failed them - whether by not providing them with comprehensive sexuality education, not affording them the option to purchase affordable contraception that worked for their body, not allowing their Medicaid insurance to cover an abortion procedure in light of an unplanned pregnancy, etc - was truly heartbreaking. Thank you, Governer Rauner, for being brave enough to look past partisanship and political rhetoric to make a compassionate decision that's good for women and all people in Illinois.


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