Ryan Faces Tough Choice on Controversial Abortion Law

By Patterson, John | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 29, 2000 | Go to article overview

Ryan Faces Tough Choice on Controversial Abortion Law


Patterson, John, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


SPRINGFIELD - In the coming weeks, Gov. George Ryan must decide his position on controversial abortion legislation that would prohibit the use of public funds to pay for an abortion except in cases of rape, incest or where the woman will otherwise die.

The proposition and its timing have the potential to raise political havoc at what is usually a staid summer convention for Illinois Republicans. Ryan's office has set a June 16 deadline for action on the abortion proposal. The Illinois Republican Party Convention starts in Springfield the same day.

At this point, Ryan isn't commenting on what action he'll take. Spokesman Dennis Culloton acknowledged abortion is a politically divisive issue but said Ryan's decision will be based on what he thinks is right.

"The governor is going to evaluate this bill and make the best decision that he can," Culloton said.

Republican Party conventions in Illinois seldom produce controversy. Even hotbed topics like abortion are toned down for what is essentially a summer party for Republican faithful.

"Over the years, the Republican Party has worked very hard to craft a platform that is respectful to all sides on the abortion matter and clearly states that we respect the sanctity of human life," said Brad Goodrich, executive director of the Illinois Republican Party.

Ryan traditionally has opposed abortion. But he has never publicly committed to a position on the legislation before him. During his campaign for governor, Ryan said he opposed abortions unless needed to save a woman's life or if a pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. But he did not take a position on what he would do if abortion restrictions passed the legislature, saying he'd wait for that to happen.

Now it has, and Ryan faces a tough choice.

Signing the legislation would appease conservative Republicans who have hounded the tax and fee increases that funded Ryan's $12 billion Illinois FIRST spending program. But it also runs the risk of angering moderates of both parties who voted him into office over conservative Democrat Glenn Poshard. …

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