As abortion laws in the United States change after Friday’s Supreme Court ruling, providers in Illinois are bracing for an influx of patients from elsewhere.
At Planned Parenthood’s location in Chicago’s Loop, the phones have been ringing since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion.
“We expect to see up to 20 times more abortion patients coming from out of state than we do now,” said Julie Uhal of Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
Abortion is legal in Illinois and can only be restricted after the point of viability, when a fetus is considered capable of surviving outside the womb. Medical science determines viability at 24 to 26 weeks, but Illinois law does not specify a time frame, saying a medical professional can determine viability in each case. Abortions are also permitted after viability to protect the life or health of the patient.
Across the state, many clinics offering medical abortions are bracing for an increase in patient numbers. Several states surrounding Illinois, such as Missouri and Wisconsin, already have abortion restrictions.
“Less than 30 minutes after the SCOTUS advisory was issued, abortion became illegal in the State of Missouri, with very rare exceptions for maternal medical emergencies,” said Yamelsie Rodriguez, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood St. Louis region.
Others, like Indiana and Iowa, may enforce stricter laws.
To prepare, Planned Parenthood has opened strategic clinics on the Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin borders. The Fairview Heights clinic, located near the Missouri border in southern Illinois, has seen a 121% increase in out-of-state patients in the eight months since adoption by the Texas Senate Bill 8, which bans abortion after six weeks.
Planned Parenthood hired more staff, launched telehealth services to accommodate more patients, and opened the nation’s first regional communications center. But as of Monday, there is no priority for Illinois residents.
“Our doors are open to anyone who needs us, wherever they come from, and we are committed to serving as many patients as possible,” Uhal said.