Long before the news broke Monday night about the release of a draft opinion suggesting the US Supreme Court may be preparing to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade in 1973, Illinoisans wondered what impact such an action would have on abortion rights in their Express.
About half of US states are expected to ban abortion if Roe falls, according to abortion rights think tank Guttmacher Institute. Twenty-two states, mostly in the South and Midwest, already have full or near-full bans on the books. Aside from Texas, everyone is now blocked in court because of Roe.
Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws, which would immediately ban abortion if Roe is struck down and would presumably take effect if a majority of the Supreme Court votes in favor of the draft in late June or early July.
But Illinois is not one of them.
Keeping in mind that the draft is not the final decision, here are answers to questions people are asking about a possible repeal of Roe and its impact on Illinois.
Abortion would not become illegal or restricted in Illinois. If Roe v. Wade were nullified or eliminated, the issue of reproductive rights would be decided by individual states.
The right to abortion has been firmly established in Illinois law, which has some of the least restrictive rules in the nation.
Every year, thousands of women cross state lines to get abortions in Illinois, according to state data. That number could grow exponentially pending decisions from the US Supreme Court and new laws in various states.
Nearly 10,000 women traveled from out of state for an abortion in Illinois in 2020, an increase of about 29% from the previous year, according to the most recent data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The number of women crossing state lines to come to Illinois for the procedure has increased every year since 2014.
Illinois abortion providers say they expect more women to travel here from other states for reproductive health care in the future.
“As Illinois continues to break down barriers to health care, we will continue to be a needed haven in the Midwest,” said Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. “We are planning for the numbers outside the state of Illinois to continue to increase, as long as other states are allowed to enact harmful and unconstitutional bans and restrictions on abortion.”
Abortion clinics have opened near state lines: An 18,000-square-foot Planned Parenthood facility opened in 2019 in Fairview Heights, just over the Missouri border, and another Planned Parenthood opened in May 2020 in Waukegan, near the Wisconsin border.
The Center for Reproductive Rights has identified 24 states that would potentially ban abortions if Roe is struck down. Most of those states are located in the central and southern parts of the country.
The list includes several states that surround Illinois: Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky, and Ohio.
“These states and territories are extremely vulnerable to the revival of old abortion bans or the enactment of new ones, and none of them have legal protections for abortion,” the Center wrote in the conclusion of a project called “What Would Happen? Yes Roe Caó” where they analyzed constitutions, laws, regulations, court rulings and access to abortion.
The 24 states they identified include the 13 states with “trigger laws,” including Missouri and Kentucky, and states with laws that greatly restrict abortion.
Like Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota have protections against banning abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights found that the State Supreme Courts of Iowa and Minnesota have recognized the right to abortion under the state constitution.
Although Iowa has a six-week abortion ban, that ban is unenforceable because it was ruled unconstitutional by the Polk County District Court.
In Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, abortion is not protected under state law, and current restrictions make access to abortion care difficult, the Center for Reproductive Rights found.
Governor JB Pritzker and dozens of other Illinois Democrats gathered at the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop early Tuesday to praise their efforts in recent years to ensure abortion remains legal and accessible in the state and to rally supporters for the possible fights ahead.
“Reproductive rights and bodily autonomy are the most basic and fundamental human rights,” said state Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas, a Democrat from Chicago. “This is not a drill, this is not a test, nor a dress rehearsal. … This moment is the rallying cry and a defining moment that marks a line in history.”
Minutes after Politico reported that it had obtained the draft decision, politicians took to social media to weigh in on the news.
Pritzker, Democrat: “As long as I’m governor, Illinois will continue to be a beacon for reproductive freedom. We will not return.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Democrat: “What we’re seeing tonight in Roe v. Wade is a horrendous attack on our fundamental right to choose, and we will fight that with everything we have.”
US Rep. Mary Miller, Republican from Downstate: “Our judges need your prayers to stand up to the radical abortion industry and defend life!”
>>> Read more reactions here
Illinois passed its first abortion law in 1827. The law was intended to prohibit the widespread sale of abortion-inducing drugs.
In 1867, Illinois amended its 1827 law to criminalize attempted abortion by any means, at any time during pregnancy. When Roe v. Wade of the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that state laws restricting abortion were unconstitutional, striking down the 1867 Illinois law. In recent years, Illinois state legislators have acted to protect the right to abortion and make the procedure more accessible.
Only a minority of Americans want to overturn Roe v. Wade. In 2020, AP VoteCast found that 69% of respondents wanted the Supreme Court to leave the decision intact.
A more recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, released last June, said 57% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Another 43% said it should be illegal in all or most cases.
When it comes to limitations on abortion, public opinion is more mixed. Support for the procedure is strongest when the pregnancy is in the first trimester and declines after that.
It’s worth remembering that three of the justices who appear poised to unseat Roe were appointed by former President Donald Trump, who failed to win the popular vote when he was elected in 2016.
Associated Press contributed to this report