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Your Tax Dollars at Work? Why This State Saw a 1,700 Percent Spike in Taxpayer-Funded Abortions

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Ultrasound of an unborn baby

In the last two months, abortion legislation in New York, Virginia and other states that can allow abortion up to the moment of birth has caught the nation's attention. 

But another push to promote abortion has stayed under the radar--the movement to fund it with taxpayer dollars.

Right now 15 states pay for abortions with state Medicaid funds, according to tracking from the Guttmacher Institute. Court orders are behind the majority of these funding policies.

But as political scientist Dr. Michael New recently observed, a governor is behind the policy change in Illinois and that should serve as a warning to pro-lifers. "Until recently, relatively few elected officials aggressively pushed for taxpayer-funded abortion," said New.

In fact, both President Clinton and Obama signed bills that included the Hyde Amendment which prohibits using federal funds to pay for abortion except for special exceptions such as incest, rape, or saving the life of the mother.

But now, New says he expects to see more governors advocating for state-funded abortions. "It wouldn't surprise me to see some Democratic governors in blue states start pursuing policies that require taxpayers to pay for abortion for women on Medicaid," he told CBN News.

One reason for the concern says New is a significant body of research that shows that abortions increase when state Medicaid programs fund them.  
Illinois is just one example. In 2017, then-Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill mandating state Medicaid cover the cost of abortions for low-income women. Recently, WICS-TV in Springfield, Illinois investigated the abortion rate and found the number went up dramatically after Rauner signed the legislation. 

In the first half of 2017, before the bill became law, Illinois taxpayers paid for 84 abortions. But in the first half of 2018, that number exploded to 1,561 abortions, an increase of more than 1,700 percent.

"Essentially, when the price of abortion goes down, the incidence increases and if low-income women can get abortion subsidized through Medicaid programs they're more likely to get abortions," says New.

This movement comes as more states are considering legislation that allows abortion right up until birth. 

New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed such legislation in January and lit New York City's Freedom Tower in pink to celebrate.

Illinois, Virginia, and Vermont are just some of the states that have considered or recently passed similar bills.

Ironically, these shifts to the far left could lead more liberals to the center. As Axios recently reported, a new Marist poll finds that in the last month, Democrats who identify as pro-life jumped from 20 to 34 percent.

Barbara Carvalho, who directed the poll, explained to Axios that the change was surprising, given the stability of the numbers for so long. She attributes it to the public debate over legislation in the states. "The increased discussion in the public forum in the past month appears to have made the biggest difference in how people identify on the issue," she said.

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, agrees. "I think what has helped is the recent move by New York and Virginia and other states to redefine what it means to be pro-choice to someone who supports abortion up to 9 months and even after," she told CBN News.

Day said that record new members joined in January and she hopes to capitalize on the trend in 2020.

"The pro-life Democrats are going to demand answers and which of the candidates is going to open up the big tent and say, 'You can be pro-life and Democrat in the party?" she said.

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