CHICAGO: Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner ended months of speculation Thursday and signed legislation allowing state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions, a reversal of the first-term Republican’s stance on the proposal last spring.

The legislature, which is run by Democrats, approved the measure in May but delayed sending it to Rauner until Monday, in part because he has wavered on where he stands. As a candidate, Rauner supported expanding coverage for abortions, but in April said he opposed the legislation and Illinois should focus on economic issues.

Rauner’s final word came at a news conference Thursday before signing the bill privately.

He said while he’d talked to advocates on both sides, he always supported abortion rights and had to take action “consistent” with his views.

“The passions, the emotions, the sentiments on both sides of these issues are very powerful. I respect them very much,” Rauner said. “I believe that a woman living with limited financial means should not be put in a position where she has to choose something different than a woman of higher income would be able to choose.”

The law takes effect immediately.

The annual taxpayer cost of abortions under the measure would be $1.8 million, according to Department of Healthcare and Family Services estimates.

Signing the bill earned Rauner praise from top Illinois Democrats, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a onetime White House chief of staff under former President Barack Obama.

But Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, who ran with Rauner in 2014, said she disagreed with the governor as an anti-abortion Republican who was born to a teenage mother.