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Chicago Pledges $500K To Help People Access Abortions, Reproductive Care Amid Threat To Roe v. Wade

Planned Parenthood Illinois could see double to five times as many out-of-state patients coming here for abortion care if Roe v. Wade is overturned, its president said.

Demonstrators at a Downtown rally in support of abortion rights May 7, 2022.
Enrique Reyes/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Chicago’s health department is pledging $500,000 to help people access abortion and reproductive care services as the nation faces a threat to Roe v. Wade.

The fund was announced Monday, just more than a week after news broke that the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade, which has guaranteed basic abortion rights. Many sets — including all of those around Illinois — are set to completely ban or heavily restrict abortion services if the decision is overturned.

“Women’s health care is a right that should be guaranteed, and it is a matter of public health. Prior to the legalization of abortion, tens of thousands of women wound up in emergency rooms every year from botched, illegal abortions. Not all of them survived,” health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a news release. “We must never go back to that time.”

The $500,000 will be used to provide transportation, lodging, safe care and follow-up services for Chicagoans and for people who need to come to Chicago for abortions and other reproductive health care.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade and subsequent banning of abortions in nearby states is expected to put further pressure on abortion providers in and around Chicago.

Thousands of out-of-staters already come to Illinois every year to access abortion services. If other states are able to ban or more heavily restrict abortion, Planned Parenthood Illinois could see double to five times as many out-of-state patients coming here for abortion care, President Jennifer Welsh said at a news conference Monday.

RELATED: Chicago’s Abortion Providers Say They Need Long-Term Support To Protect People If Roe V. Wade Gets Overturned

But such travel comes with costs: People must sometimes miss work and pay for traveling to Chicago, staying here and other costs — like child care or for food — while they are receiving health services. That’s meant people in need of abortions can’t always afford to travel to Chicago to safely get one.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois and other health care groups and advocates have prepared for this moment, officials have said. But they’ll still face a significant amount of pressure and need long-term support to help people in need, advocates have said.

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