Abortions in Illinois surge 54% as neighboring states enact pro-life legislation

The Illinois branch of Planned Parenthood has reported seeing a sudden surge in women seeking to terminate their pregnancies after neighboring states enacted anti-abortion laws.

Planned Parenthood reported to news outlets that the rate of women coming for abortions has spiked by 54 percent since last year's repeal of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.

Following the ruling, many states began banning abortions or passing stricter regulations to significantly lessen the number of legal abortions performed in their states. The exodus of women to Illinois seeking to kill their children is part of an ongoing "abortion tourism trend," in which pregnant women reportedly travel from more than 30 states to Illinois and other states where abortion is still legal to get their operations.

Over the past year, the percentage of women seeking abortions in Illinois who came from out of state jumped from eight percent to 13 percent.

"We are seeing people from places as far away as Texas and Florida, where they have nothing, no access in between their home state and Illinois," said Planned Parenthood Illinois Voice President Brigid Leahy. "Imagine having to travel hundreds of miles to get the care that you need. The increase is directly the result of other states banning abortion."

States surrounding Illinois that have already began enforcing laws banning abortions and providing felony penalties for doctors who violate this state law include Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, abortion is still legal on demand in Illinois until "fetal viability," which is usually identified as between 22 to 28 weeks of gestation. Also, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a measure codifying abortion as a "fundamental right" in 2019, meaning beyond the "fetal viability" limit, it would be lawful to kill the child up to birth under broadly defined "health" exceptions.

Due to this, more and more women are "visiting" the state, seeking to abort their babies. Even worse, minors can already get abortions without parental notification as per state law. A newly passed measure, HB 4664, also provides legal protections for out-of-state abortionists and authorizes nurse practitioners and physician assistants to conduct abortions, quickly growing the abortion workforce in the state.

"Our location is right next door to Planned Parenthood in Springfield and so we do see a lot of cars [with] out-of-state license plates," said Suzanne Moss, executive director of Springfield Right to Life in Illinois. "We really have become an abortion destination state, which is not surprising to us."

Abortion clinics also moving to Illinois

With the rising demand for abortion in Illinois, abortion clinics are also moving from neighboring states that are passing restrictions. According to reports, out of the 27 new clinics that have opened in the past year in states protecting abortion, six are operated by providers who moved from states that restrict abortions.

"Where you see clinics opening are states that are as proximate as possible to the ban states, but also relatively safe for the providers who want to know they can stay open for a while," said Middlebury College professor Caitlin Myers.

CHOICES, an abortion clinic for nearly 50 years in Memphis, Tennessee, opened a second clinic in Carbondale, Illinois last fall. Diane Derzis, an operator of several clinics throughout the country, plans to open a new clinic in Chicago soon. Also, Dr. Alan Braid, an abortion provider since 1972, and his daughter Dr. Andrea Gallegos packed their suitcases, uprooted their families and left Texas to open clinics in New Mexico and Illinois, two states where abortion remains legal.

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