Illinois braces for influx of women seeking abortions as neighboring states move to ban it

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Saturday, June 25, 2022
Illinois prepares for influx of women from neighboring states seeking abortions
Tens of thousands of women from neighboring states are expected to come to Illinois to obtain safe, legal abortions now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

HAMMOND, Ind. (WLS) -- Illinois planning for an influx of 20,000 to 30,000 women seeking legal abortions as all neighboring states, including Indiana, are poised to ban the procedure.

Legal experts fully expect Illinois to become a safe haven for those seeking an abortion.

"Planned Parenthood of Illinois has been working for years to prepare for the additional anticipated desire for 20,000 to 30,000 patients who are now forced to flee their home states to get care here in Illinois," said Jennifer Welch, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action.

Illinois already has laws on the books that protect abortion and reproductive rights. But in nearby states like Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Michigan, abortion bans or restrictions could soon be coming. Missouri has already activated its trigger law, immediately banning the procedure.

"There's certainly restrictions in some states that will probably go into effect pretty quickly," said Lee Hasselbacher, University of Chicago research assistant professor.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has already suspended abortion services, and is working to get patients care in other states like Illinois.

"We will continue to be an oasis, a beacon in the surrounding area and across our country to make sure that people who need access to reproductive health care can get it in our city and our state and we're going to provide even additional resources to make sure that that happened," said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Providers expect to be inundated with an influx of patients who can travel for the procedure.

"People are thinking about how they're going to increase their staff, how they're going to offer additional appointment times, things like that," Hasselbacher said.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb is calling the General Assembly back on July 6 and expects members to take up an abortion ban then, saying, "I have been clear in stating I am pro-life. We have an opportunity to make progress in protecting the sanctity of life, and that's exactly what we will do."

"Quite frankly, there are so many more services available for pregnant mothers that weren't available in states like Indiana back in 1973," said Mike Fitcher of Indiana Right to Life. "But thanks to this monumentally historic ruling that we've seen today, we now have the opportunity as a state to come together as a loving, compassionate state to really revisit Indiana's abortion laws and take a look at them."

The City of Chicago is setting aside $500,000 to help providers cover the costs for out-of-state patients, including travel and other expenses. Mayor Lightfoot referred to it as a "down payment," as much more will surely be needed.