Women are traveling in increasing numbers to Illinois to get abortions, in what may be a reaction to a number of Midwestern states passing pro-life measures.
The total number of statewide abortions, as well as the number of abortions performed in Illinois on out-of-state-women, increased between 2016 and 2017, according to the Chicago Tribune. Women had 38,382 abortions in 2016 compared to 39,329 abortions in 2017, the Tribune reported.
The number of out-of-state abortions increased by nearly 1,000 between 2016 and 2017, rising from 4,543 abortions to 5,528, according to the Tribune.
Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri surround Illinois and have passed numerous pro-life measures, perhaps compelling women to travel to Illinois to access abortions.
“It seems like a lot of these (nearby) states have increased the barriers to abortion and other health care for women in recent years,” Timna Axel, 28, who volunteers with Midwest Access Coalition said, according to the newspaper. “It doesn’t seem right there should be this island of health care access in Chicago.”
Midwest Access Coalition “helps women traveling to, from, and within the Midwest access a safe, legal abortion,” according to its Twitter handle.
Iowa passed a bill in May banning abortion in the presence of an unborn baby’s heartbeat, which is usually detected around six weeks. The law was prevented from taking effect, however, after a judge put a temporary injunction in place in June. Iowa bans abortions after 20 weeks.
A Missouri judge ruled in October 2017 that the state’s 72-hour waiting period is constitutional, rejecting Planned Parenthood’s emergency motion for a temporary restraining order on Missouri’s abortion laws. The Missouri House passed a bill in April banning abortions after 20 weeks.
“So many states around us are enacting dangerous restrictions that put the health and lives of women at risk, so women have no choice really but to come to Illinois,” Terry Cosgrove, president of abortion rights advocacy group Personal PAC, said according to the Tribune. “It isn’t anything but pure misogyny.”
Michigan, Mississippi and Wisconsin have laws banning abortion that would become effective if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Indiana law requires women to get an ultrasound at least 18 hours before they have an abortion, but that law is currently blocked by an injunction. Indiana also bans abortions after 20 weeks.
“The increase in abortions performed on out-of-state women is indicative of how truly regressive we are when it comes to protecting pre-born children in our state,” Illinois Right to Life Executive Director Mary Kate Knorr said, the Tribune reported. “Illinois is an outlier amongst our neighbors, whose legislatures have consulted science and found that discouraging abortions is in the best interest of their residents.”
“When access to abortion is politically restricted, those who have the means to travel will do so, and those without means are left most vulnerable,” Planned Parenthood of the Heartland spokeswoman Becca Lee said, according to the Tribune.
The number of U.S. abortions has hit a historic low, according to the latest numbers from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Nov. 21.
“I think women are simply choosing not to terminate,” Iowa Right to Life Executive Director Caitlyn Dixson said, the Tribune reported.
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