Planned Parenthood of Illinois reports spike in abortion patients since Roe v. Wade was overturned

Patients seeking both medication and procedure abortions rose 54% in the last year, and those needing financial and travel help more than doubled.

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Planned Parenthood of Illinois President and CEO Jennifer Welch speaks during a news conference in response to the Supreme Court rolling back Roe v. Wade in its decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s case at Planned Parenthood of Illinois’ headquarters in the Loop, Friday afternoon, June 24, 2022.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois President and CEO Jennifer Welch speaks during a news conference in response to the Supreme Court rolling back Roe v. Wade in its decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s case at Planned Parenthood of Illinois’ headquarters in the Loop, Friday afternoon, June 24, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The number of patients seeking abortions from Planned Parenthood of Illinois increased dramatically since last June after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The amount of patients seeking both medication and procedure abortions rose 54% in the last year, Planned Parenthood reported Monday. Patients needing financial and travel help also more than doubled in that period.

“The Supreme Court stripped away a fundamental right, causing devastating consequences for our patients, especially those forced to travel for care,” Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said in a news release about the data.

Their numbers also show that more patients are seeking abortions later in their pregnancies than before the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. The Supreme Court ruled in the case that abortions are not protected by federal law and returned that power to the states, overruling both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Planned Parenthood also reported that abortions over the 16-week gestational age make up 13% of all procedural abortions, compared with 8% before the Dobbs decision.

Welch, in an interview with the Sun-Times, said Planned Parenthood of Illinois anticipated the Supreme Court’s decision and prepared to meet the surge in patients.

“We built a health center by the Indiana border, we built a health center in Waukegan by the Wisconsin border,” Welch said. “We wanted to make sure we were here for people. I am devastated that Roe was overturned. I am pleased that we could be here for the patients that were forced to travel for this essential health care.”

Jennifer Welch president CEO Planned Parenthood of Illinois Reproductive Health Act

Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, speaks about the Reproductive Health Act during a bill-signing ceremony with Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the Chicago Cultural Center in June 2019.

John L. Alexander/For the Sun-Times

Over the last year, nearly a quarter of patients at Planned Parenthood clinics were from out of state, compared with 7% before Dobbs, the organization reported.

These trends show that bans and restrictions in other states force patients to delay and travel farther for care, Welch said.

Mary Kate Zander, the executive director of Illinois Right to Life, said the increase in abortion patients has been a long time coming for Illinois.

“It is not surprising, but it’s obviously devastating that such a severe increase happened in such a short period of time,” Zander said. “Four years ago, the Illinois Legislature started the effort of wiping away restrictions and accountability for abortion providers and left it wide open for abortion providers to come in and set up shop in Illinois.”

The increase, Zander said, represents a larger trend of women coming to Illinois from across the country for abortions.

“Illinois has been one of the national abortion industry’s fail-safes since Roe was overturned a year ago,” Zander said.

Since last June, Planned Parenthood of Illinois provided more than $1.5 million in financial support to patients seeking abortions. For patients needing financial or travel help, the average amount they needed also increased from $250 to $500.

“What we’re trying to do is remove cost as a barrier to care. Their home state has already put in medically unnecessary barriers and restrictions,” Welch said. “We subsidize health care. But we also provide practical support, like booking train tickets and booking hotel nights.”

In January, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a wide-ranging abortion bill, which included preventing out-of-state authorities from issuing subpoenas, summonses or extraditions to patients or providers in Illinois for being involved with abortions.

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