Jun 23, 2023 - News

How Illinois became an abortion safe haven after Roe v. Wade reversal

Photo of a faced of a building that says "Planned Parenthood"

A motorist passes a Planned Parenthood clinic in 2018 in Chicago. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Saturday marks one year since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

  • In Illinois, abortion protections have only grown stronger since then.

Why it matters: Illinois has become a safe haven for patients seeking abortion services from nearby states that have limited and restricted access.

Context: After last year's decision, Gov. JB Pritzker and the General Assembly used the fall veto session to strengthen protections, which included expanding guaranteed insurance coverage and giving temporary licenses for out-of-state health care professionals who wanted to move to Illinois.

Yes, but: According to one state lawmaker, there's more to be done.

What they're saying: "We are always watching what's happening in other states, like what's happening in Florida that we may need to react to?" Rep. Kelly Cassidy (Chicago) tells Axios.

  • For example, Illinois has been monitoring Texas following a judge's decision in April seeking to block the Food and Drug Administration's approval of a commonly used abortion pill, Cassidy says.
  • "We also need to be prepared to react to what's happening in our state too, as our wait times increase for people to get access as the volume and demand increases."

By the numbers: Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) says that in the year since the decision, abortion patients have increased 54% in the state. PPIL's data also shows:

  • Patients traveled to Illinois from 34 states.
  • The type of abortion has also changed. Abortions over 16 weeks now make up 13% of all procedural abortions, compared with 8% before the decision.
  • The number of patients needing financial assistance to get care has doubled.
Estimated legal abortion rate in Illinois
Note: Includes abortions provided by clinics, private medical offices, hospitals and virtual-only clinics. Months with less than 10 abortions are represented as 0; Data: #WeCount/Society of Family Planning; Chart: Kavya Beheraj and Jacque Schrag/Axios

Reality check: PPIL says its health centers have handled the surge in patients without increased wait times. PPIL credits building new spaces, collaborating with neighboring states and offering abortion medication by mail.

  • It also says the influx is all from word of mouth, as it doesn't advertise their services to other states.

What we're watching: Cassidy wants Illinois to do more to attract care providers. "We need to roll out the welcome mat for people who have to leave Florida and other states," Cassidy tells Axios.

  • "Should we do a tax credit for migration from states that have been pushing people out? Should we do that for folks who bring medical licenses and teaching licenses in our states?"

What's next: Cassidy and other state lawmakers are pushing for data privacy protections, which they hope will be adopted in the fall veto session.


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