By Jonah Chester, Public News Service
As the future of abortion access is in limbo, Planned Parenthood of Illinois is preparing for a potential surge in patients from surrounding states.
In a leaked draft opinion released by Politico last week, five of the court’s justices supported overturning Roe v. Wade, the nearly fifty-year old precedent upholding the right to abortion.
Kristen Schultz, chief strategy and operations officer for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said her organization could see up to a fivefold increase in out-of-state patients seeking an abortion if the court carries through with the draft opinion. She pointed out they have been planning for such a scenario for years.
“We have built new health centers,” Schultz outlined. “We built a Flossmoor location which is on the east-side of the state just across the Indiana border, we’ve built a Waukegan facility on the north side of the state just across the Wisconsin border, we’ve expanded our centrally located Loop health center.”
Overturning Roe will pass abortion decisions on to individual states. Nearly all of Illinois’ surrounding states either have trigger laws to immediately outlaw abortions if Roe is struck down, or, in Indiana’s case, will likely pass a ban as soon as possible. Until the justices issue a final opinion, abortion is still legal.
In addition to building new health centers, Schultz noted Planned Parenthood of Illinois has expanded its telehealth and digital services. She added the organization has been communicating with its sister branches in surrounding states, and urged folks to defer to them for questions and medical advice.
“The Planned Parenthoods in those local states will still be able to support patients through directing them to the right sources of information,” Schultz explained. “Those Planned Parenthoods will continue to exist to provide contraceptive care and share information as appropriate.”
Schultz stressed funds such as the Chicago Abortion Fund can help out-of-state patients cover travel and medical costs. With Democrats in control of both the Legislature and governor’s office, Illinois is unlikely to pass any abortion restrictions in the foreseeable future.
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