Illinois is seen as an island for abortion access, with many surrounding states now restricting the practice since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.
But doctors of Planned Parenthood Wisconsin have found a way to continue to provide services.
Teaming up with Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Wisconsin doctors and their patients are traveling to Illinois for abortion care.
The Planned Parenthood in north suburban Waukegan opened in 2020 in anticipation of the overturning of Roe. Wisconsin doctors trained with Planned Parenthood after the Dobbs decision and started providing care earlier this month.
Dr. Kathy King, an OBGYN and associate medical director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, has been traveling between the two states to provide care for patients.
Last Thursday when she was providing care, she said the majority of patients and doctors providing abortions at the facility were from Wisconsin. Planned Parenthood of Illinois said there has been a 10-fold increase in the number of Wisconsin residents coming to Illinois for abortion access since the Supreme Court decision.
“While we are enormously grateful and pleased that we can utilize that space in Waukegan to provide care, it is nonetheless heartbreaking that people have to travel out of state to access care,” King said.
Prior to Dobbs, Wisconsin law created barriers to accessing abortion care, even while it was legal, King said.
That included requiring mandatory counseling, ultrasounds and waiting periods for abortions. Additionally, only licensed physicians were able to perform abortions, even though other medical professionals like nurse practitioners can provide abortions in other states.
There’s also the financial barrier in access to care, King said. People might need assistance to be able to afford care, afford to travel to get that care and other expenses that go along with traveling out of state, she added.
While there has been talk from anti-abortion advocates about blocking patients from crossing state lines to access abortions, King emphasized that Wisconsin is not criminalizing patients seeking abortions.
“There’s a lot of confusion amongst patients for fear that they will do something wrong,” King said. “And so we are really trying to provide them factual guidance.”