By Angie Leventis Lourgos
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate speculate that tighter regulations in other Midwest states could be sending more women to Illinois, which is considered one of the less-restrictive states in the region.
When Alison Dreith learned of her unplanned pregnancy, the St. Louis resident said she chose to travel to Illinois to have an abortion in 2016.
She is the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri and lived closer to a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis where she used to work and knew some of the staff. But Dreith said Missouri’s 72-hour waiting period and other regulations made terminating a pregnancy far more burdensome in her state.
“I knew Missouri’s laws,” she said. “I never even thought twice about making the decision to go to Illinois.”
More women appear to be traveling from out of state to have an abortion in Illinois even as the total number of terminated pregnancies statewide decreased, according to the most recent figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Dreith is among the 4,543 women who crossed the state border to terminate a pregnancy in 2016, an increase from the 3,210 abortions provided to out-of-state women reported in the previous year, based on a state report released in December. Overall, abortions in Illinois dropped from 39,856 in 2015 to 38,382 in 2016.
Since 2010, about 3,000 women a year have come here from out of state to have an abortion. Because of confidentiality laws, the data aren’t broken down by home state, nor do they explain why women are traveling for the procedure.
In a relatively large number of cases, 1,176 in 2016 and 2,148 in 2015, it’s unclear whether the patient was from in state or out of state because that was marked unknown.