Attorneys from the Thomas More Society filed a Motion for Direct Appeal in the Illinois Supreme Court on February 21, 2018, seeking to have the state’s highest court take their appeal against taxpayer funding of abortion in the Land of Lincoln. In seeking a direct appeal, or alternatively, a supervisory order from the Illinois Supreme Court to expedite their appeal, the group of plaintiffs representing hundreds of thousands of Illinois taxpayers are calling out state officials and a lower court for actions that violate the Illinois Constitution.
The taxpayer lawsuit, filed at the end of November in the Sangamon County Circuit Court, was brought by county and statewide pro-life organizations, the Springfield Catholic Diocese, and a group of Illinois legislators from across the state.
Among the points raised in the filing:
- House Bill 40 (“HB 40”) reverses the prohibition on funding of elective abortions by Illinois’ Medicaid and employee health insurance programs and mandates coverage by Medicaid.
- Under HB 40, approximately 30,000 of the state’s annual 40,000 abortions will become eligible for payment by Medicaid. This will cost Illinois taxpayers at least $10 million, and potentially upwards of $33 million.
- Within the next two months, the State of Illinois intends to release funds to pay for elective abortions, despite the fact that the law can’t even be effective until at least June 1, 2018, per the Illinois Constitution and state statute.
- The Constitution also requires the General Assembly to estimate revenues and make specific appropriations for all state spending, but there were never any funds estimated to be available nor any appropriation for the tens of millions of dollars in state abortion spending mandated by HB 40.
- Because the federal government does not recognize elective abortion as a reimbursable medical procedure, none of the state’s new expense for elective abortions will be eligible for the standard 50% Medicaid match from the federal government. Illinois taxpayers will assume the entirety of the expense for HB 40’s new reimbursements.
The motion also raises the issue of extraordinary public interest regarding the ability of Illinois courts to enforce the state’s Constitution. The Circuit Court previously ruled that the courts had no ability to review or hear cases alleging appropriations to be illegal or lacking an estimate of available funds. The Appellate Court has refused to expedite the plaintiffs’ appeal, which means that millions of dollars in taxpayer funds may be illegally spent for elective abortions, before the appeal is even decided.
The defendants in the case are Felicia Norwood, Director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services; Michael Hoffman, Acting Director of the Department of Central Management Services; Michael Frerichs, Treasurer of the State of Illinois; and Susana Mendoza, Comptroller of the State of Illinois.
“The people of Illinois reject taxpayer funded abortion, and they shouldn’t be forced to pay for HB 40, especially before the law is even supposed to be effective,” stated Peter Breen, Thomas More Society Special Counsel. “This year’s budget is already $1.7 billion in the hole, and the General Assembly never identified any funds available to pay for HB 40. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will allow our motion, so that we can bring this illegal abortion spending to a swift end.”
Read the Motion for Direct Appeal Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 302(B) or, In the Alternative, for Supervisory Order, filed in Springfield Right to Life et al v. Felicia Norwood et al at the Illinois Supreme Court, February 21, 2018, by Thomas More Society attorneys here.