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Out of state abortion seekers may be assisted by city grants

Thursday, Sep 1, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Crain’s

Two local reproductive health organizations focused on providing and supporting abortion care are the recipients of city funding aimed to help the organizations continue their work following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision that reversed the constitutional right to an abortion.

The Chicago Abortion Fund, which helps people pay for abortion services, and Planned Parenthood of Illinois, one of the state’s largest abortion providers, each received $250,000 from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Lightfoot originally announced that $500,000 in funding was available to reproductive organizations back in May. On Wednesday, the city announced that Planned Parenthood of Illinois and the Chicago Abortion Fund were selected as funding recipients through a “competitive request for proposals process.”

“The City of Chicago is committed to ensuring that no person will lose their rights to reproductive health care,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

* The money may help out of state abortions seekers coming to Illinois. Sun Times

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. […]

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.

* Block Club Chicago

During the first week after Roe v. Wade was overturned, appointment wait times at Planned Parenthood’s Fairview Heights Health Center went from three or four days to two and a half weeks, said Yamelsie Rodriguez, CEO of Advocates of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region and Southwest Missouri.

“The surge of patients came much faster than any of us could have anticipated,” Rodriguez said.

The clinic is one of only two abortion providers in southern Illinois. They have “seen the biggest impact in wait times because every state below them has cut off abortion access,” said Brigid Leahy, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of public policy.

As patients are forced to wait for appointments, the Fairview Heights Health Center has also seen a 76 percent increase in people getting abortions later in pregnancy, Rodriguez said during the news conference.

* Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin explains Tennessee’s ban will redirect people to southern Illlinois

If you click on the website for the Memphis Choices Center for Reproductive Health, a message pops up: “Starting August 25th, CHOICES can no longer provide abortion services in Memphis due to a new law banning abortions entirely in Tennessee. A new CHOICES clinic is opening in Carbondale, Illinois in mid-September.”

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, an almost-total ban on abortion is now law in Tennessee. There is no exception for rape or incest. Protecting the mother’s health might not be a good enough reason, either. “While it allows abortion treatments in cases where a woman’s life is in danger, it still requires physicians to defend themselves in court, putting their licenses on the line,” the Knoxville NBC News affiliate reports. As for the health of the mother, the physician will have the burden of proof to show “serious and permanent bodily injury” would occur if the abortion were not performed.

Moreover, the law discriminates against those with mental health issues. ABC News reports, “Under the ban, abortions cannot be authorized based on a ‘claim or diagnosis’ relating to mental health, including claims that the woman would ‘engage in conduct that would result in her death or substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,’ according to the law.” A woman whose pregnancy might trigger a relapse of schizophrenia, panic attacks or life-threatening depression would be denied abortion care.

That’s the bleak reality now facing women in Tennessee and other states with draconian bans. Memphis Choices President and CEO Jennifer Pepper tells me in a phone interview, “We performed our last abortion Wednesday afternoon” — Aug. 24. The clinic remains open to offer other reproductive care, but if women need an abortion, clinic employees will direct them to websites that provide information about where they can still find access to care and seek financial support for travel, lodging and other expenses that might be necessary.

* Michigan may push abortion seekers to Illinois, the New York Times reports

A state board in Michigan refused on Wednesday to place an abortion rights referendum on the November ballot because of a dispute over word spacing on the petition, an embarrassing blow to abortion rights supporters who had gathered more than 750,000 signatures.

The decision, which came when the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked along party lines, could still be overturned by the courts. But it injected further uncertainty into the fate of abortion in Michigan, a swing state where enforcement of a pre-Roe v. Wade abortion ban has been temporarily blocked by a judge and where many closely watched races are on this year’s ballot. […]

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats facing re-election races, have made support of abortion rights central to their campaigns.

But unless the Michigan Supreme Court overrules the canvassers, the future of abortion in the state is likely to be determined by a disputed law that was passed in 1931. That measure, which has been blocked by a judge, bans most abortions in Michigan and is unlikely to be repealed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

* Indiana providers may make out-of-state referrals for patients with no legal abortion option, but will not assist with travel plans. Indy Star

Bracing for a dramatic change in Indiana abortion law, Indiana University Health leaders have spent hours in meetings over the past month, sketching out a response that includes a 24/7 consultation team, arranging for obstetrics residents to undergo abortion training out of state, and offering providers as much clarity as possible on how to handle difficult cases.

In a virtual news conference Thursday, IU Health leaders outlined the many challenges that the new law, scheduled to go into effect Sept. 15, has posed for the largest health care system in the state. Under Senate Bill 1, abortions can now only legally take place in this state in a hospital’s care.

In 2021, only 133 of the 8,414 abortions performed occurred in hospitals, according to the Indiana Department of Health. The vast majority were in outpatient clinics.

The new law only allows abortions when the mother’s life is in danger, when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest up to 10 weeks post fertilization, or when the fetus has been determined to have a fatal anomaly up to 20 weeks.


  1. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 1, 22 @ 5:09 pm:

    Thank you for this post.

    So much more is to be worked out, it’s all so new, and it’s going to change and evolve as other states do, or don’t do, other things

    Meanwhile, Illinois is now, and will continue to be a safe harbor, and this storm is not something to be seen as a good thing, in so far as women will be coming here as other states threaten women’s health.

  2. - Amalia - Thursday, Sep 1, 22 @ 5:30 pm:

    It’s very simple. Vote Blue. Your freedom depends on it.

  3. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 1, 22 @ 5:31 pm:

    Uhhhh. They probably need to move here then, and perhaps pay some taxes.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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