As many as five thousand abortion patients were expected to seek treatment at four Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin this year, but after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, a ban on the procedure is now in effect, sending those patients to seek care elsewhere.
That ban, which dates back to before the Civil War, went back into effect once the decision was announced in June.
As a result, Planned Parenthood officials in Wisconsin are seeking help from their counterparts in Illinois, with many of those patients now traveling to a clinic in suburban Waukegan.
“During this time we have seen a ten-fold increase in patients from Wisconsin that are coming to Illinois for treatment,” PP Illinois CEO Jennifer Welch said.
Facilities in both states have forged a partnership, allowing Wisconsin OB-GYN’s like Dr. Allie Linton to make the trip to Illinois to treat their patients.
“The ability to provide this care and this continuity of care was phenomenal and I am so thankful for this partnership for allowing me to do so,” she said.
Under Illinois law, all doctors, nurses, midwives and clinicians from Wisconsin must first obtain licenses here in order to provide care.
Similar programs are being explored elsewhere, with many Republican-controlled states changing abortion laws in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision.
“This (increase in patients) is clear evidence that restrictions and bans do not stop abortions,” Welch said. “Restrictions and bans only make it harder for people to access essential reproductive health care where they live.”
Wisconsin lawmakers are expected to tackle the issue of abortion rights in coming sessions. While Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has filed a lawsuit to block the bill, arguing that it is out-of-date and unenforceable, some Republican lawmakers and activists are pushing to strengthen the measure, eliminating exceptions that allow for abortions that would save the life of the mother.
Still others are pushing for a possible “personhood amendment,” which would codify an abortion ban into the state’s constitution.
As that legal and political wrangling takes place, the partnership between Wisconsin and Illinois Planned Parenthood facilities is seeking donations and other assistance.
“This is a marathon now,” Planned Parenthood Wisconsin CEO Tanya Atkinson said. “(We’re seeking) to restore abortion access to whoever needs it, no matter what.”
The partnership is looking for donors…and even “abortion navigators,” who can drive patients from where they are to the care they need.