Story at a glance
- Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is partnering with Planned Parenthood of Illinois to offer Wisconsin residents abortion care out-of-state.
- It’s an effort to meet surging patient demand amid a restrictive abortion law in Wisconsin.
- Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is sending its health care providers to a Waukegan, Ill. clinic multiple times a week.
Abortion providers in Wisconsin have found a solution to their state’s restrictive abortion law: travel to neighboring Planned Parenthood of Illinois to continue to provide abortion care to Wisconsin residents across state lines.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) and Wisconsin (PPWI) announced this week that the two reproductive health care providers are partnering to bring trained medical professionals into Illinois to meet the growing patient demand for abortion care.
The decision to partner is in response to a century-old 1849 abortion law that could take effect in Wisconsin and criminalize the procedure. Wisconsin can now enact this law after the Supreme Court ruled in June that there is no constitutional right to abortion–overturning the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
PPWI has already begun sending its medical providers over to PPIL’s Waukegan, Illinois clinic several days a week—about 130 miles away from the state’s shared border.
That Waukegan clinic was opened for precisely this reason, with Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of PPIL, explaining at a press conference that the clinic opened in 2020 in anticipation that abortion access would become restricted or outright banned in Wisconsin if Roe were to be struck down.
Wisconsin medical providers also began training and becoming certified to provide care in Illinois earlier this year, so they are now ready and able to provide abortion care to any Wisconsin resident that needs it.
For Wisconsin residents that seek abortion services, they will likely need to travel to PPIL’s Waukegan clinic but can receive pre-and-post-procedure care in Wisconsin. PPWI is currently suspending all abortion care—and was one of only two abortion providers operating in the state.
“Since the Supreme Court’s decision, our call volume has doubled and we’re referring all of our abortion patients out-of-state for care. The majority of these patients are being referred to Illinois,” said Tanya Atkinson, president and CEO of PPWI.
Atkinson also said PPWI is working to educate Wisconsin residents of their abortion care options including providing resources for financial support if they need to go out-of-state for care.
Illinois is quickly becoming an abortion safe haven for many people around the country, with state health data revealing about 9,700 pregnancies were terminated for out-of-state residents in 2020—the highest number Illinois has experienced over the past 25 years.
“Because abortion is safe and legal in Illinois, we are now an oasis for care, as millions of patients are stranded in a vast abortion desert, including Wisconsin residents,” said Welch.