CHICAGO (CBS) — In recent months, Illinois has solidified its status as a Safe Haven state for legal abortions.
The CBS 2 Investigators have previously exposed how more and more women are traveling to Illinois from states as far away as Texas – where there is a near-total ban.
So could a decision overturning Roe v. Wade have an impact on Illinois with its sanctuary status? Planned Parenthood of Illinois says yes.
As we know, Illinois passed legislation in 2017 to keep abortion legal if Roe v. Wade were ever overturned. So while a potential decision overturning Rov v. Wade won’t change access for Illinois women, Planned Parenthood of Illinois is preparing for a massive influx of patients coming in from other states.
"We have increased, and are increasing, our capacity," said Dr. Amy Whitaker, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
When Hickey talked to Dr. Whitaker back in October, Planned Parenthood of Illinois had already seen a 30 percent jump in out-of-state patients due to Texas’ de facto ban on abortions.
Now, Dr. Whitaker says they’re preparing for the floodgates to open.
"We expect probably about two to five times as many patients for us to be seeing every year in the state of Illinois, throughout Illinois," she said.
Dr. Whitaker said it is something Planned Parenthood of Illinois has planned for — opening more and more clinics. In particular, there is a plan to open clinics close to the Wisconsin and Indiana state lines.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois is also relying on access through telehealth appointments.
But Whitaker worries that it is not the patients with the means to travel who will be impacted.
"The patients who are going to be most affected are our patients who are already marginalized – patients who are already suffering from not having access to healthcare," she said.
Amy Gehrke, executive director of Illinois Right to Life, says her organization will be busier too.
"The expected number of new women coming to our state for abortion is something to be very concerned about," she said.
Illinois Right to Life awards emergency grants to women seeking abortions for financial reasons.
"Our goal at Illinois Right to Life is to look for ways that we can expand our Project Love program – to not only meet the needs of Illinois women, but those women who will be coming to our state seeking abortion and seeking help," Gehrke said.
On Tuesday, Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) encouraged "creativity" when it comes to ways that Illinois can welcome to patients coming for sanctuary.
"So, you know, in theory: ‘Hey, Alabama family – you’re a teacher. We can make it easier for you to transfer your license and come become an Illinoisan.’" Cassidy said. "We can provide protections for the various providers beyond just the healthcare providers."
Supporters on both sides of this issue were in agreement that while Illinois might have a "safe haven" status right now, that is not a guarantee moving forward if there are major changes to the makeup of the Legislature.
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May 3, 2022 at 06:39PM