What to Know
- Abortion opponents link the increase to a new state law expanding taxpayer-subsidized abortions, which took affect in 2018
- Abortion-rights supporters say there is no way to know how the law affected overall numbers
- Nearly 5,700 abortion procedures were performed for out-of-state residents, which advocates attribute to more restrictive laws in nearby states
Abortions in Illinois increased about 7% from 2017 to 2018, mostly from residents of the state who were seeking the procedure, according to the health department.
The Illinois Department of Public Health recently released figures for 2018, the Chicago Tribune reported. The annual Illinois abortion report shows 42,441 pregnancies were terminated statewide in 2018, up from 39,329 in 2017.
Many abortion opponents link the increase to a state law that went into effect in 2018 expanding taxpayer-subsidized abortions. The law allows state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions and also made sure that abortions remain legal.
“We knew that abortions would continue to increase as taxpayer funding of abortions took hold, but seeing an increase of nearly 4,000 more Illinois babies aborted is shocking,” former Republican state Rep. Peter Breen said. “Illinois has become the abortion capital of the Midwest.”
However, many abortion-rights supporters say it's impossible to attribute the increase to any particular cause.
“We have no way of knowing how many Medicaid patients would have been able to have an abortion if it were not covered and how many would have been forced to continue their pregnancies if they did not have coverage,” said Brigid Leahy, senior director of public policy with Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
The Illinois figures also showed a slight increase in the number of women who came from other states for the procedure, with 5,668 out-of-state patients in 2018 compared with 5,528 in 2017. Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate largely attributed this travel to more restrictive laws in nearby states.
Despite the 2018 increase in Illinois, the overall rate of abortions has drastically decreased over the past three decades. According to state data, around 50,000 or more pregnancies were terminated annually in the mid-1990s.