In response to Governor Bruce Rauner's decision to expand access to abortions in Illinois, some GOP lawmakers are pushing a measure of their own.
Several Republicans have withdrawn their support from the governor after he moved to extend abortion coverage to Medicaid recipients and state employee health insurance policyholders. Using taxpayer money to fund a procedure that many don't agree with was something he initially said he would not do. As he scrambles to garner support as he runs for a second term, he's gone back on his promise.
Republicans are hoping to reverse the provision of the bill that expands funding for elective abortions. While we need to get to the point where abortion is banned in the state altogether, this is a step in the right direction.
But conservative legislators missed something. There's another stipulation in Governor Rauner's bill stating that abortions will continue to be legal in Illinois even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, which would effectively make abortion illegal at the federal level.
Why have lawmakers looked the other way on this one? Have they forgotten about the doctrine of federal preemption? It's contained within Article VI of the US Constitution, so they should be familiar with it.
Otherwise known as the supremacy clause, it states that federal law trumps state law. The Constitution and other federal statutes are to be the guideposts by which states and localities hand down legislation. Even if the laws conflict, federal law reigns supreme. It's pretty cut and dried.
The portion of the state law that promises to oppose a federal ruling should be struck down. If not, there will be consequences later. If Roe v. Wade is reversed in the near future, Chicago won't be the only jurisdiction threatened with a loss of funds for defying federal regulations. Illinois as a whole will be affected, while state legislators engage in a "battle of wills" to see how long they can hold out before they cave in to the pressure or another election season brings their tenure to an abrupt end.
The goal of this latest proposal by the GOP is more of a campaign to separate themselves from Rauner-- and attempt to salvage what's left of the Republican party in Illinois-- than an attempt at comprehensive reform. If they wanted to do that, they would have covered all their bases.
The bill isn't likely to pass anyway, since the state legislature is overwhelmingly Democratic. Lawmakers will lend more credibility to their cause if they propose measures that actually align with the law. Time to lay politics aside and get back to basics, starting with the US Constitution.