By Chris Hotchkin

Abortion is legal in Illinois up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, and after that if the mother’s health is at risk. Governor Pritzker signed the Reproductive Health Act in 2019 codifying the right to abortion services, anticipating that Roe v Wade may be overturned, as it was in the Dobbs v Jackson Supreme Court decision in June of 2022.

The Illinois legislation signed by Pritzker allows access to abortion services for all people in Illinois, regardless of age or sexual orientation, and including those who are in prison or in DCFS custody. The legislation stipulates that there will be no waiting period to access an abortion and patients will not be required to view an ultrasound or listen to a lecture. Clinics are not required to obtain parental permission to provide abortion services to individuals under the age of 18 and abortion services are confidential.

Medical providers in Illinois are not required to provide abortions, but if they do not, they are required to provide information regarding where a patient can access abortion services. Illinois Medicaid covers abortion care and most private insurers based in Illinois are required to cover abortion services.

Governor Pritzker recently signed sweeping legislation to protect out-of-state patients who have come to Illinois for abortion services. This legislation shields health care patients and providers from legal action originating in another state.

Since the Dobbs Supreme Court decision in June of 2022, 24 states have banned abortions including states surrounding Illinois such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, and Arkansas. The result of this is that people from these states are coming to Illinois to access reproductive services. Abortions in Illinois have increased by 30% following the Dobbs decision. Since Dobbs Planned Parenthood of Illinois has served people seeking abortion services from 33 states, compared with 10 to 15 states prior to Dobbs. Since Dobbs, 30% of Illinois Planned Parenthood clients are from out of state, compared to 6% prior to Dobbs.

Illinois is finding it difficult to have the capacity to meet the needs of people coming to Illinois from other states to access abortion. Illinois recently passed legislation to allow advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to perform non-surgical abortion procedures.

“We will have to respond to the new ways that bully states will come up with to attack patients and providers,” Illinois Representative Kelly Cassidy said. “Our mission is clear: If you want to come after people seeking care or their providers, if your mission is to torment trans kids and their families, you’re going to have to get through all of us first.”

“This legislation consolidates Illinois as an island that protects reproductive and gender-affirming rights in the Midwest,” Illinois State Senator Celina Villaneuva said. “It places our state at the forefront of a nation for granting people the freedom to make their life decisions.”