‘Overjoyed’ or ‘scared,’ Illinois looks to November after Roe . Wade overturned

A local abortion clinic is gearing up for a wave of new patients traveling from out of state to...
A local abortion clinic is gearing up for a wave of new patients traveling from out of state to get abortions.(Photographer: Alex Laitala)
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 6:34 PM CDT
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - The legality of abortion in Illinois remains despite the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but several state officials are saying that hangs in the balance depending on how the election falls in November.

For anti-abortion groups, the decision comes as a blessing. Amy Gherke of Illinois Right to Life said her group is “overjoyed” and feel today is a day of “rejoicing” in light of the decision. Though abortion remains legal, she believes it opens the door to roll back some of the laws passed in the state that has made Illinois one of the most progressive for access to abortion.

“Our hope is that we can get to a point very soon where we can roll back some of the extreme laws in Illinois,” Gherke said. “As many have predicted, there is likely a huge red wave coming.”

Illinois is one of the only states in the Midwest to have codified abortion rights into state law. They also allow minors to get abortions without requiring a judge’s permission to bypass notifying the parents. Law also requires Medicaid and private insurers to cover the procedure.

Democratic state senators and representatives, some of which worked on those pieces of legislation, say Illinois’s legal protection of abortion are built on a house of cards that could fall within one election.

“I am very proud of the work we’ve done in Illinois, but it’s not enough,” State Senator Melinda Bush (D - Chicago) said. “We are one election away from being like any other state. One election away.”

Other state Democrats share the concern that losing seats in the November election will lead to rollbacks of restriction on abortion. Every single seat in the Illinois General Assembly is up for reelection in newly drawn districts.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision was a shocking, life-changing moment for millions of women in our country... Women deserve and should always have the right to make their own personal health decisions, regardless of what this irredeemable and out-of-touch Supreme Court has chosen to do,” Peoria’s Jehan Gordon Booth (D) said in a statement. “I am heartbroken thinking about the millions of women in other states who have had their lives irrevocably upturned. We have to fight back against this reckless decision, and we must do all that we can to strengthen protections here in Illinois. Lives depend on it.”,

For pro-life organizations, it’s a chance to emphasize support of pregnant people than abortions. Gherke said she is glad the Supreme Court recognized unborn children as being worth protection. She said women need resources, encouragement and help to achieve their pregnancy.

As it stands right now, Illinois remains an “island” of abortion access in the Midwest. Surrounding states Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky all have trigger laws which reinstate abortion bans following Roe v. Wade’s fall. Iowa and Indiana are likely to ban, but have no done so yet. This leaves Illinois as the only state likely to protect abortions.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois has already seen an influx in patients seeking abortions from out-of-state. Demand was so high the agency opened a Regional Logistics Center to help patients figure out lodging and travel into the state. At today’s press conference, PPIL said they estimate 20,000 people will come to Illinois seeking abortion. Although, they said the estimate could be much higher than anticipated.

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