- After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Illinois became an abortion oasis.
- An OB-GYN in Chicago told Insider she’s shocked by the number of out-of-state patients she’s seen.
- “I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m worried it’s going to get worse,” said Dr. Amy Addante.
Reproductive health care providers in states where abortion remains protected are seeing new trends when it comes to providing this care — patients are traveling hours or days for a procedure that in some cases takes just minutes.
Dr. Amy Addante — a gynecologist in Chicago — made it clear where her patients were from on Friday. As she glanced at the list, she was struck by the distance people had traveled for a service she routinely provides. People came from Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana for an abortion.
“Overwhelmingly, the response was the same. It was ‘thank you for taking care of me,'” Addante told Insider. “They had crossed all these barriers and traveled so far from their homes, but they were the ones who thanked me. It was very profound,” she said.
Traveling hundreds or thousands of miles for an abortion has become the new normal since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Those living in the 13 states with “trigger laws” — where abortion was either outright banned or severely restricted — have few options.
Healthcare providers are at a crossroads
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization, about one in four Americans will have an abortion by age 45.
Addante agreed with many others that abortion bans will make it increasingly difficult for the most vulnerable people in society to access life-saving health care. She said that while she welcomes those out of state, one consequence of the SCOTUS decision will be longer waits for appointments and an increase in pregnancy-related morbidity and pregnancy-related mortality.
The US has the highest maternal mortality rate compared to 10 other developed countries. In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the maternal mortality rate was almost 24 deaths per 100,000 live births.
“We know that by denying people reproductive health care, we are increasing their risk of having pregnancy complications,” Addante told Insider.
Another consequence of the decision is the impact on health care providers.
“It’s really mentally and emotionally draining, not being able to do the job you’re trained to do because a politician thinks they know better than you and your patient,” she said.
After the Supreme Court’s decision on June 24, Illinois became an abortion oasis. In 2020, doctors in the state performed 9,686 out-of-state abortions, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Planned Parenthood Illinois told Insider it expects that number to double or triple in light of the decision.
Addante said that since June 24, the phones at these clinics have been ringing off the hook with health care providers not only booking appointments but also addressing concerns about travel costs and child care.
“How do we help someone who lives three states away? How do we help someone who doesn’t have gas money or doesn’t have childcare for the kids they already have?” Addante said, “I’m outraged that a person’s zip code can now determine what kind of health care they get.”
“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg”
Addante knows what it’s like to work in a state where access to abortion is limited. Before working in Chicago, she spent six years in Missouri, a state that already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the US. She remembers having to turn patients away.
“It’s one of the worst feelings in the world as a doctor to have to tell someone you can’t take care of them. Not because you don’t have the skills, but because legally you’re not allowed to.” she said.
Addante says the decision has galvanized him. She said she now feels even more committed to providing abortion care.
“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m worried it’s going to get worse … And as a mother myself and as a person — this is what I do for a living, it’s just, it’s heartbreaking,” she said.