Pritzker prepping Illinois to be abortion ‘island’ after failed US Senate vote

Illinois is one of many states reacting to the abortion ban in Texas
Illinois is one of many states reacting to the abortion ban in Texas(WGEM)
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:38 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Illinois Democrats gathered downstate Wednesday to urge the US Senate to vote for the Women’s Health Protection Act and codify the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade into law. But they also said they are prepared in the event of abortion loses its legal protection.

“Let me make this clear: Illinois is a pro-choice state, and as long as I’m governor and we retain a pro-choice legislature, we will support every woman’s right to reproductive freedom,” Pritzker said.

Officials in the Metro East at the Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region say about 75% of their patients come from out of state, from places such as Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky and four other states.

Pritzker says the number of out-of-state patients has tripled in Illinois since 2015, and they expect demand could skyrocket if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

“We have been preparing for the day Roe falls, and we are ready,” PPSLR President and CEO Yasmelie Rodriguez said.

“We are increasing capacity that we are well-prepared and equipped to see an influx of up to 14,000 traveling to the health center we’re here in today in Illinois as they have to flee their home state to access essential, basic, safe health care.”

The demand for out-of-state care has grown so much the facility opened a regional logistics center in January that helps patients access lodging, travel and other needs when they travel to Illinois.

While Rodriguez is urging national lawmakers to take action, she said the state has done its part in protecting abortion rights. The legislation was awaiting a vote in the Senate, but it failed to meet the 60 votes needed for cloture.

That bill would solidify abortion rights federally, but in Illinois, the General Assembly passed legislation that codified Roe v. Wade in 2019.

This and other pro-abortion rights legislation, like the repeal of the Parental notification Act last year, and the repeal of the trigger law that would make abortion illegal had Roe v. Wade been overturned in 2016, have led to many coming to Illinois for abortions.

“If you look at the map of state that will revert to being anti-choice or already really are, this is an island, this state,” Pritzker said. “Can you imagine what it would be like in the country if Illinois was not pro-choice?”

The legislators and even Pritzker urged residents to vote as a form of retaliation if the case is overturned. While they said they expect the Illinois legislature to remain a majority pro-choice, Pritzker said on the national stage he hoped voters would remove senators such as Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville) said she was shocked at the turn of events, calling the draft decision an “attack on women.” The PPSLR clinic is in her district. A Tennessee-based abortion service announced plans to open a clinic in Carbondale, Illinois on the southern edge of Illinois.

“I’ve had to check the calendar this past week a couple times to remind myself that we actually are in 2022,” Stuart said.

She argued the overturning of abortion rights could open the door to decreased access to birth control and overturning marriage equality.

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