In the nearly four months since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood of Illinois said they have seen a record number of abortion patients traveling to Illinois from out of state.
A federally protected right for nearly 50 years, abortion is now subject to a patchwork of laws that vary from state to state following Dobbs v. Jackson from the Supreme Court on June 24. While abortion remains largely protected by law in Illinois, many states across the United States have since moved to ban abortion or severely restrict access.
In the Midwest, Missouri and Kentucky were among more than a dozen states with a trigger ban that immediately banned abortion with limited exceptions once Roe v. Wade was canceled.
Wisconsin has an 1849 ban that is now at the center of a major legal challenge and the state’s midterm elections. And Indiana was the first state in the United States to enact a near-total new ban on abortion following the Dobbs ruling. This law came into effect last month but was blocked by a judge a week later – its fate is still unclear.
New restrictions across the country have led to a massive influx of abortion patients into Illinois.
“In August of this year, Planned Parenthood of Illinois saw more out-of-state patients for abortion care than ever before,” said Kristen Schultz, director of strategy and operations at PPIL.
Schultz said PPIL typically sees patients from 10 to 15 different states each month, but as of August the organization had seen patients from 28 states across the country, most from neighboring states like Wisconsin and Washington. ‘Ohio.
“We’ve seen a tenfold increase in the number of patients from Wisconsin seeking abortion care in Illinois,” Schulz said, adding that PPIL has seen 18 times as many patients from Kentucky, four times as many from Texas and twice as many from Indiana since Roe was overthrown. .
The Illinois Department of Public Health has statewide abortion data from 1995 to 2020. It shows that the total number of abortions for Illinois has declined over the years, reaching 49,457 in 1996. but falling to 36,174 in 2020.
But what has increased in recent years — even before the Dobbs ruling — is the number of people who have come to Illinois from other states to get abortions.
From 1995 to 2015, the percentage of abortion patients who came from out of state each year was stable at an average of about 8%. The proportion jumped to 12% in 2016, 16% in 2019 and 21% in 2020 — when 9,686 people came to Illinois for abortions, per IDPH.
These days, for PPIL — which operates 17 health centers across the state as well as a telehealth program — that proportion is much higher.
“At this point, nearly 30 percent of our abortion patients have come from out of state,” Schulz said.
“When it comes to patients in the state, Planned Parenthood of Illinois continues to see the same – and in fact more in August – aborted patients right here in Illinois than we have ever seen before,” said continued Schulz.
She said they had been planning for this for years to ensure wait times would not increase.
“We have taken active steps to meet the expected increase of 20,000 or 30,000 additional abortion patients each year,” Schulz said.
“Some of the steps we’ve taken include building our health center in Waukegan just over the Wisconsin border, building our facility in Flossmoor just over the Indiana border,” he said. she declared. “On September 15, the day Indiana’s ban first went into effect, we announced that we had expanded abortion services at our Champaign Health Center to include for the first time the in-clinic abortion in addition to medical abortion.”
PPIL also announced in July a partnership with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, in which abortion care providers from Wisconsin travel to Illinois a few days a week to expand care at the Waukegan center and throughout the country. State.
They have also hired staff to meet increased demand and are hiring additional doctors, nurses, medical assistants and more. Schulz said the needs of traveling patients are greater than the organization anticipated — and they’ve increased the number of patient navigators.
“We get calls from out-of-state patients trying to figure out how they’ll get to us and how they’ll find child care for their children and how they’ll deal with travel expenses, and we help them with that. and connect them with other additional resources,” Schulz said. “But we also get calls — and we did early on after the Dobbs decision — from patients in Illinois, just making sure their appointment you was in place and that abortion was still legal here in Illinois.”
“The calls vary and are very voluminous and the patients are scared,” she added. “They’re absolutely calling out to us and looking for reassurance that when they join us, if they can join us, we’ll take care of them and we absolutely will.”
Schulz said PPIL has also seen an increase in volunteer applications — more than 1,700 since the Dobbs decision.