Abortion rights demonstrators march in Chicago

Abortion rights demonstrators march through Chicago, Illinois on May 7, 2022.

(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Planned Parenthood of Illinois Saw Out-of-State Patients Soar After Roe Fell

"Surrounded by states where abortion is now unavailable and even criminalized, Illinois is a critical access point for those seeking care in the Midwest and South," said one advocate.

In the six months since the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood of Illinois has seen its out-of-state patients jump from about 6% to nearly a third each month, the Chicago Tribune revealed Tuesday.

"It is clear that abortion bans don't stop people from having or needing abortions, they just make it more difficult to access care," Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, told the Tribune. "The number of patients from other states forced to travel to our health centers is at a historic high."

"The number of patients from other states forced to travel to our health centers is at a historic high."

Before the court's long-feared June 24 decision, the provider typically saw patients from 10-15 other states each month; now, patients from 31 states visit Planned Parenthood's 17 health centers across Illinois. Along with a tenfold increase in patients from Wisconsin, Welch said, "we're also seeing more patients than ever before from Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, and Texas."

Providers and advocates warned that the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling would increase patient loads of abortion providers in pro-choice states, as "trigger bans" took effect and anti-choice state lawmakers imposed new forced birth policies that restricted or even shut down clinics.

The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute highlighted last week that "abortion is currently unavailable in 14 states, and courts have temporarily blocked enforcement of bans in eight others as of December 12, 2022."


"Virtually all of the 17.8 million women of reproductive age (15-49) who live in these 14 states, along with transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals who also may become pregnant, no longer have access to abortion unless they travel to another state or self-manage their abortion. Moreover, across these states, 66 clinics had stopped providing abortion care 100 days after Dobbs, and nearly one-third had closed entirely," the new Guttmacher analysis notes, referencing a report from October.

Of the five states that directly border Illinois, two—Kentucky and Missouri—have near-total bans on abortion. Wisconsin clinics have stopped providing abortions because of uncertainty about a pre-Roe ban. A ban in Indiana has been temporarily halted by litigation, and Iowa's GOP governor has recently attempted to revive restrictions blocked in court a few years ago.

"Even before Roe was overturned, getting an abortion was difficult or outright impossible for many people, especially those who were already facing steep barriers to accessing healthcare, including people with low incomes, Black and Brown people, immigrants, young people, those with disabilities, and rural populations," says Guttmacher's October report. "These inequities are likely to worsen as clinic-based abortion care disappears in many states."

The institute's new report points out that "as state legislatures, courts, and voters continue to weigh in on abortion bans enacted in the wake of the Dobbs decision, the chaos created by overturning Roe is likely to continue. Progressive state legislatures are expected to support increased access to abortion care in their own states and attempt to mitigate the impact of barriers for those living in states that ban abortion, while conservative states are expected to pass more outright bans and other abortion restrictions. Moreover, more states will likely send questions on abortion and reproductive rights directly to voters."

As the Tribune reported:

In Illinois, abortion access expanded in many ways this year. A new abortion clinic called Choices: Center for Reproductive Health opened in Carbondale in October, adding a third abortion clinic to the southern Illinois region.
Choices, a reproductive healthcare provider based in Memphis, established the clinic there in part to provide access to patients in Tennessee, where an abortion ban went into effect in August. Carbondale, the home of Southern Illinois University, is several hours from Memphis and Nashville.

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri is planning to launch a mobile clinic to serve patients along Illinois' southern border early next year, according to the report. A spokesperson said that since Roe was overturned, the Fairview Heights clinic has seen a 300% jump in patients from states other than Illinois or Missouri.

"Surrounded by states where abortion is now unavailable and even criminalized, Illinois is a critical access point for those seeking care in the Midwest and South," Elisabeth Smith, director of state policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights, told the newspaper. "There has been a massive influx of patients from across the region, and Illinois providers have shown incredible resolve and determination to provide care to those who need it."

"It is more important than ever," Smith said, "to build up protections for abortion with every tool that we have and at every level."

This post has been updated with the correct figures for the increase in patients at Illinois Planned Parenthood centers.

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