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Planned Parenthood of IL, WI Partner to Bolster Abortion Access

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Friday, July 15, 2022   

Planned Parenthood of Illinois and Wisconsin are partnering to improve abortion access for Wisconsinites.

Abortion in Wisconsin was functionally banned after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case guaranteeing access to abortions.

Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said the new partnership will increase services at the state's Waukegan clinic, just across the Wisconsin-Illinois border, south of Kenosha.

"Abortion providers from Wisconsin now travel to Illinois several days a week to expand access to care at our Waukegan health center," Welch explained. "We opened the Waukegan health center in 2020 in anticipation of this moment."

The legality of Wisconsin's 1849 abortion ban is currently a matter of dispute, and the state's Democratic Attorney General has filed a lawsuit to strike down the pre-Civil War measure. Even if its enforceability is questionable, the threat of legal action pushed Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin to discontinue providing abortion care at its clinics.

Tanya Atkinson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said the organization will continue to offer non-abortion-related reproductive health care. She added support is available for anyone who needs help getting to the Waukegan clinic.

"We have also added patient navigators who can work with patients one-on-one and offer additional travel and financial support," Atkinson outlined. "We really want to remove those barriers for people, as much as we're able."

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, in 2020, Illinois clinics performed roughly 530 abortions for Wisconsin patients, out of the nearly 9,700 total abortions performed for out-of-state residents.

Kristen Schultz, chief strategy and operations officer for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said demand has exploded since Roe's fall.

"Patients from Wisconsin traveling to our health centers across the state in Illinois for abortion has increased 10 times versus the pre-June average," Schultz reported. "We expect to see this need continue to expand."

Before the Supreme Court's ruling, the number of out-of-state abortions Illinois clinics provided had steadily grown over the years. In 1995, the state performed about 3,600 abortions for out-of-state patients, roughly 63% below the number provided in 2020.


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