Welch has been thinking about out-of-state patients more often since a draft Supreme Court opinion leaked last month showed that the nation’s highest court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade, the ruling that established a constitutional right to an abortion 50 years ago.
Roe’s demise would put Welch at the center of Planned Parenthood’s efforts to preserve access to abortions. Illinois is likely to become one of the few Midwestern states where abortion remains legal after the federal right is extinguished. With surrounding states, including Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri, poised to restrict or ban abortion soon after Roe falls, Illinois is likely to see an influx of patients flocking to the state for the procedure.
As head of one of Illinois’ biggest abortion providers, Welch has to figure out how to meet an anticipated wave of demand from women living in nearby states. PPIL declined to disclose how many abortions it provides to all its patients but says it provides about 1,000 abortions specifically for out-of-state patients every year, which includes abortions given through at-home medications and in-clinic procedures.
The organization predicts those numbers will skyrocket to 20,000 to 30,000 out-of-state abortion patients annually if neighboring and some Southern states prohibit or severely limit abortions. The projection is based on research that shows thousands of women from other states already leave their home state for abortion care, and that Illinois will often be the closest option for women departing their home states if Roe falls. Welch figures PPIL will need to add at least 50 staffers, offer more in-person and telehealth appointments, and raise tens of millions to pay for it all.
Daunting as the challenge may seem, it came as no surprise to Welch. She says she has been preparing for this moment since she took the helm at PPIL five years ago.
“I always knew it was coming,” she says. “I talked about the end of Roe v. Wade during my job interview.”
via Crain’s Chicago Business
June 7, 2022 at 07:04AM