As abortion laws across the U.S. change following Friday's Supreme Court decision, providers in Illinois are getting ready for an influx of patients coming from elsewhere.
At Planned Parenthood's location in Chicago's Loop, phones have been ringing off the hook since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion.
"We expect to see up to 20 times as many abortion patients coming from out of state as we do currently," said Julie Uhal with Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
Abortion is legal in Illinois and can only be restricted after the point of viability, when a fetus is considered able to survive outside the womb. Medical science determines viability at 24 to 26 weeks, but Illinois law does not specify a timeframe, saying a medical professional can determine viability in each case. Abortions are also allowed after viability to protect the patient’s life or health.
Across the state, many clinics that offer medication abortion are preparing for a surge in patients. Multiple states surrounding Illinois, such as Missouri and Wisconsin, already have restrictions on abortion.
"Less than 30 minutes after the SCOTUS opinion came down, abortion became illegal in the state of Missouri, with very limited exceptions of emergency health of the mother," said Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood St. Louis region.
Others, like Indiana and Iowa, may implement stricter laws.
To prepare, Planned Parenthood opened strategic clinics on the Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin borders. The clinic in Fairview Heights, which is located near the Missouri border in southern Illinois, saw a 121% increase in out-of-state patients in the eight months after Texas passed Senate Bill 8, which bans abortion after six weeks.
Planned Parenthood has hired more staff, launched telehealth services to acommodate more patients and opened the first regional communications center in the country. But as of Monday, there is no prioritization for Illinois residents.
"Our doors are open to anyone who needs us regardless of where they’re coming from, and we’re committed to serving as many patients as possible," Uhal stated.