Local News

Planned Parenthood in Flossmoor is preparing for an increase in out-of-state abortion patients

If the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Roe v. Wade is overturned, as was indicated in a recently leaked draft of the pending Supreme Court decision, “trigger laws” in 26 states – including all five that border Illinois – will go into effect immediately, banning abortion.

Illinois state law grants citizens the fundamental right to an abortion by way of the Reproductive Health Act that Governor JB Pritzker signed in 2019. 

Officials of Planned Parenthood in Flossmoor expect an influx of women seeking abortions if the Roe v. Wade ruling is overturned by the Supreme Court this summer. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
Officials of Planned Parenthood in Flossmoor expect an influx of women seeking abortions if the Roe v. Wade ruling is overturned by the Supreme Court this summer. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Mary Jane Maharry, publicist and senior marketing manager for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the organization is expecting an estimate of 20,000 to 30,000 additional patients traveling from out of state for abortions every year.

To compare, in 2020, there were 46,243 abortions in Illinois and only 9,686 were out of state patients, according to the Illinois Department of Health.

Advertisement

In Flossmoor, in 2022, Planned Parenthood already has experienced an increase of 15 to 20 abortion patients every month, according to Batriz Gonzalez, the lead reproductive health assistant at Planned Parenthood in Flossmoor.

“We started seeing an increase on Jan. 1, and we are expecting more of an increase to come,” Gonzalez said.

To prepare for the surge, Planned Parenthood in Flossmoor has increased the number of days that abortion services are provided. It has expanded its family planning services which include pap smears, birth control visits, sexually transmitted infection or disease testing, gender affirming care for transgender individuals and free condoms.

Additionally, Planned Parenthood of Illinois has moved to a larger space in Chicago’s Loop to accommodate more out-of-state abortion patients, Maharry said. It’s located at 16 North Wabash.

“We just started offering medication abortion through telehealth and then mailing the medication to qualified patients with an Illinois address,” Maharry said. This “opens up the appointments in the health centers for patients that are maybe traveling.”

According to Maharry, Planned Parenthood opened its Flossmoor location in 2018 because it was near Indiana, and the neighboring state was already preparing for an end to Roe v. Wade.

“We have been preparing for years. This draft decision is not a surprise to us,” Maharry said.

President Donald Trump campaigned on appointing conservative, anti-abortion Supreme Court judges in 2016. After Trump was elected, Planned Parenthood of Illinois took “proactive steps,” Maharry said. They opened the Planned Parenthood in Flossmoor and another location in Waukegan, which is near Wisconsin.

In Flossmoor, Aid for Women is next door to Planned Parenthood. Aid for Women is an anti-abortion healthcare center that, according to its website, provides “free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds (to) help determine viability and dates.”

Anti-abortion protesters frequently can be seen on Governors Highway near the parking lot entrance to both health centers.

On a recent, sunny afternoon, John Ryan, an Oak Lawn resident and an anti-abortion activist with Coalition Life, was holding a sign that said “Check in Here” in large enough letters to be visible to those in passing cars. In much smaller letters below it, the sign said, “for free information about pregnancy care centers, counseling and other medical care.”

While Ryan doesn’t work for Aid for Women, he said he was trying to divert patients away from Planned Parenthood and towards Aid for Women.

“We try to hail those that we can without obstructing as they come in,” Ryan said. “We’ll be the last line of defense to let people know that there’s something else available to them. And you’d be surprised by how many people come through who do not realize there are other alternatives.”

Claire Smith, an H-F graduate who works in Homewood, said she’s seen the same “Check in Here” sign before. She said when she noticed it, there were two men standing by the sign.

“It was kind of creepy and upsetting. Who are these old men – or anyone for that matter – to interfere with women seeking healthcare, to interfere with their bodily autonomy?” Smith said.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Coalition Life will “ramp up our presence in front of abortion clinics” in Illinois, Ryan said.

To prepare for increased protests, Planned Parenthood in Flossmoor will expand its clinic escort services, Maharry said. Clinic escorts are Planned Parenthood employees who walk patients safely from their cars to inside the building.

“Regardless of the outcome […], the mission at Aid for Women will remain the same – to accompany pregnant women in our local community on their journey, and to help them make the best pregnancy decisions for themselves and their unborn child,” Aid for Women said in a press release.

“If the court does overturn Roe, however, our services will be even more vital to assisting those women in Chicagoland more than ever before,” said Susan Barrett, executive director of Aid for Women. “An abortion never solves a problem. We look forward to the day when both our law and our culture recognize that life begins at conception and that every human life has dignity and value and should be protected in the law.”

“Abortion is safe and legal and will remain so in Illinois,” Maharry said. “We do everything in our power to make sure our patients get the healthcare they need and deserve.”

News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name
Most read stories this week

Community Calendar