ILLINOIS (WCIA) – The Supreme Court will be reconsidering Roe v. Wade later this year. Their decision could have a major impact on the number of women coming to Illinois for abortions.

In 2020, 20% of abortions in Illinois were for out-of-state women. Access to reproductive healthcare can vary greatly across state lines. And the numbers show women are traveling to receive care that’s not available where they live.

“So it is really an all hands on deck moment for Planned Parenthood and all of the groups that are committed to making sure that people have access to reproductive health care,” Planned Parenthood of Illinois Senior Director of Public Policy Brigid Leahy said.

States surrounding Illinois have stricter regulations on abortion – sending more women across state lines for the procedure.

“This is not good for Illinois,” Illinois Right to Life Executive Director Amy Gehrke said. “There is no doubt that the people of Illinois would cringe at the thought of our state being an abortion destination.”

People on both sides of the issue say they’re not surprised by an increase of people coming to Illinois.
Recent Illinois Department of Public Health data shows 9,686 women traveled to Illinois for an abortion in 2020. That’s out of 46,243 abortions performed in the state overall. In 2019, 7,534 women from other states came here. In 2018, it was 5,668.

“I think it’s important to be aware of the fact that people are being forced to travel because their rights are being denied where they live,” Leahy said.

“The very frightening thing is that when and if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe versus Wade later this year – which is expected – the abortion numbers will only skyrocket,” Gehrke said.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, it would not change things in Illinois. The Reproductive Health Act was passed in 2019 and protects abortion rights in Illinois regardless of a Supreme Court ruling.