Women's Issues

Planned Parenthood In Illinois Is Planning For An Influx Of Patients

The monumental Supreme Court reversal is also impacting liberal-leaning states. These states are preparing for a huge increase in patients.

Planned Parenthood In Illinois Is Planning For An Influx Of Patients
Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

It’s now official.  

Nearly 50 years of Americans’ federal right to have an abortion is out the window. 

Already, in many red states, millions are losing abortion access as trigger laws start kicking in. 

But what about blue states?  

Kristen Schultz is the Chief Strategy and Operations Officer of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. 

“Everything that you can think about that you need to expand, our ability to provide more access and more care internally, we are doing that," Schultz said. 

The monumental Supreme Court reversal is also impacting liberal-leaning states. 

From coast to coast, these states are gearing up for a huge increase in out-of-state patients, setting aside millions of taxpayer dollars. 

Laurie Casey is the Executive Director of  WE Health Clinic in Duluth, Minnesota.

"There could be more protesters traveling from out of the state, and so we want to talk about beefing up our security. Also, just financially, it's going to cost us more to provide services," Casey said. 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion access, 16 states and Washington, D.C. have laws safeguarding abortion rights.  

Illinois, the only midwest state on the list, is surrounded by states that are now certain or likely to go the other direction and ban abortion. 

Planned Parenthood Illinois says up to 30,000 additional patients could travel to Illinois each year to terminate a pregnancy now that Roe has fallen.  

"This is an eventuality that we've been preparing for, for years," Schultz said.

Smaller networks of activists have been getting ready as well. 

Alison Dreith, of the Midwest Access Coalition, lives in southern Illinois. 

"I have had numerous death threats. I've had senators and governors say my name out loud in rooms to inspire hatred against me and the work that I do for a living," Dreith said. 

She’s part of a growing network of activists, helping women from other states travel to Illinois for abortions. 

“We are a practical abortion fund, which means we fund the practical costs adjacent to abortion care — transportation, lodging, child care, etc.," she said. 

Further south in Memphis, Tennessee, the leaders of an abortion clinic now forced to shut down will open another one in August in Carbondale, Illinois, only a three-hour drive from Memphis. 

Jennifer Pepper is the Executive Director of Choices: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health.  

“We're going to provide abortions, like I said, until the very last second that we can in Tennessee. But when? We really hope that that is as close to August as we can get but we're not sure, but we're not sure just yet," Pepper said.  

300 miles north, in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicago will soon become an “island of freedom.”  

 “We've got to be ready and we've got to step up," Mayor Lightfoot said. 

With that in mind, she is pledging $500,000 to expand abortion access for Chicagoans and neighbors from out of state. 

"I want to say to women here in Chicago, in Illinois and in neighboring states here in the midwest, regardless of where you live, you deserve safe and accessible health care," the Mayor said.