Abortion providers get funding boost from Chicago officials

Two Chicago organizations that help individuals who are seeking an abortion will split $500,000 from the Chicago Department of Public Health to help those traveling to Illinois for the medical procedure.

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A young girl holds a sign that reads in English “My body, my choice” and a young boy raises his sign at the Abortion Protest in the Bronzeville neighborhood, in Chicago, Illinois. The protest was co-hosted by the Chicago Abortion Fund foundation and KIDO and held in the morning in Chicago on July 4, 2022.

A young girl holds a sign that reads in English “My body, my choice” and a young boy raises his sign at the Abortion Protest in the Bronzeville neighborhood, in Chicago, Illinois. The protest was co-hosted by the Chicago Abortion Fund foundation and KIDO and held in the morning in Chicago on July 4, 2022.

Elizabeth Rymut/Sun-Times file photo

Two groups in Chicago that help individuals get abortions are getting a boost from city officials as they continue to prepare for a wave of patients.

The Chicago Abortion Fund and Planned Parenthood of Illinois will receive $500,000 from the Chicago Department of Public Health, according to a news release from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office.

Though the funding is coming from the city, it also could be used to help those coming from out of state to get the medical procedure.

“I remain dedicated to protecting any person seeking reproductive care, safety and support — regardless of their Zip code or which side of the state line they reside on,” Lightfoot said.

The funding, part of the city’s Justice For All initiative, comes about two months after the Supreme Court overturned the historic Roe v. Wade decision that had legalized abortions across the country. Since then, some states have banned almost all abortions. Illinois, where abortion remains legal, was expected to get a surge of patients from states that have banned the procedure.

Other parts of the state have also seen an uptick in demand in the weeks since the high court’s ruling.

In 2020, there were 9,686 out-of-state individuals who got abortions in Illinois, according to statistics maintained by the Illinois Department of Public Health. In 2019, there were 7,534 people who traveled to Illinois for an abortion.

Brigid Leahy, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said the funding comes as the organization faces the critical challenge of serving people from states that have banned almost all abortions.

About 30% of the patients Planned Parenthood of Illinois clinics are seeing are coming from outside Illinois, with many patients traveling from Wisconsin and Ohio, Leahy said. Some patients are traveling from as far as Florida and Texas.

“Everyone, regardless of race, sex, age, income, immigration status — all of those things — everyone deserves to have access to healthcare, and that includes reproductive health care,” Leahy said. “It is fundamental that everyone be able to do that.”

Leahy said the funding will be used for their patient navigator program that helps people through the process and to provide additional resources patients might need.

Megan Jeyifo, executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund, said the city’s funding comes right on time because abortion funds have been filling in the gaps left by changes from a national funding source. The organization is expecting to get $250,000 from the city, and it will be used to pay for everything from flights to medical visits, she said.

“People traveling are under so much stress,” she said. “They don’t know what’s legal and what’s not legal. Could they be criminalized in their home state when they return?”

The organization used to see itself as serving the region, but it’s now handling calls from all over the country.

“The fallout from the decision has made Illinois a national access point,” Jeyifo said.

Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust

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