Illinois abortion providers have seen an unprecedented number of out-of-state patients since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The Tribune said abortion seekers from more states than ever are heading to Illinois.
The report came six months after the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationally, sending the issue back to the states to regulate.
In Illinois, abortion remains legal, and the right to terminate a pregnancy is ensconced in state law.
Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, told the Tribune that the Supreme Court's ruling "has made Illinois the abortion capital of the U.S."
"Abortion providers and the government of Illinois are working to draw women here from across the region for abortions," Scheidler told the Tribune.
"This is bound to have an impact on people's reproductive choices. Poor women throughout the Midwest are being told they need abortions in Illinois — not affordable housing, or adequate health care, or better child care options, but just abortion."
Nearly a third of Planned Parenthood of Illinois' (PPI) patients now are from out of state, as opposed to about 6% prior to the Supreme Court's ruling.
"It is clear that abortion bans don't stop people from having or needing abortions, they just make it more difficult to access care," Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of PPI, told the Tribune. "The number of patients from other states forced to travel to our health centers is at a historic high."
PPI, which said dozens of patients from other states every month before the high court's decision, now sees hundreds of patients crossing state lines monthly to have abortions at one of its 17 locations.
Before the June court ruling, patients from 10 to 15 other states traveled to Illinois for abortions. Now, patients are coming from 31 states.
Patients from Wisconsin has surged tenfold, and "we're also seeing more patients than ever before from Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, and Texas," Welch told the Tribune.
The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, said 16 states had near-total abortion bans at some point in 2022, when 50 abortion restrictions were adopted nationwide.
"Many of the laws passed this year are near-total abortion bans," the institute said. "Combined with the implementation of pre-Roe laws and trigger bans that had been enacted in previous years, these laws have restricted abortion access for millions of people."
Many patients heading to Illinois are coming from the Midwest and South.
"Surrounded by states where abortion is now unavailable and even criminalized, Illinois is a critical access point for those seeking care in the Midwest and South," said Elisabeth Smith, director of Illinois policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
"There has been a massive influx of patients from across the region, and Illinois providers have shown incredible resolve and determination to provide care to those who need it."
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