- After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Illinois became an abortion oasis.
- An OB-GYN in Chicago told Insider she is overwhelmed by the number of out-of-state patients she’s seen.
- “I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. I am worried that it is going to get worse,” Dr. Amy Addante said.
Reproductive health care providers in states where abortion has remained protected are seeing new trends when it comes to providing this care — patients are traveling hours or days for a procedure that in some instances only takes a few minutes.
Dr. Amy Addante — an OB-GYN in Chicago — made it a point to look at 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 navigated all these barriers and had traveled so far from their homes, yet they were the ones thanking 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 immediately banned or severely restricted — have few options.
Healthcare providers are at a crossroads
About one in four Americans will have an abortion by the time they turn 45, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization.
Addante agreed with many others that abortion bans will make it increasingly difficult for the most vulnerable people in society to access potentially life-saving healthcare. She said while she welcomes those from out of state, a consequence of the SCOTUS decision will be longer wait times 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 nations. In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the maternal mortality rate was almost 24 deaths per 100,000 live births.
“We know that by denying people reproductive healthcare, we are increasing their risk of having pregnancy complications,” Addante told Insider.
Another fallout from the ruling is the impact on healthcare providers.
“It’s really mentally and emotionally draining, not being able to do the job that you were 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 that it expects that number to double or triple in light of the ruling.
Addante said since June 24, the phones at these clinics have been ringing nonstop with healthcare providers not only booking appointments but also troubleshooting concerns about travel costs and childcare.
“How do we help someone who lives three states away? How do we help someone who doesn’t have the gas money or who doesn’t have childcare for the children they already have?” Addante said: “I’m angry that a person’s zip code now gets to determine what kind of healthcare they get.”
‘I think this is just the tip of the iceberg’
Addante knows what it’s like to work in a state where abortion access is limited. Prior to 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 physician to have to tell someone that you can’t take care of them. Not because you don’t have the skill set, but because you legally aren’t allowed to,” she said.
Addante says the ruling has galvanized her. She said she now feels even more committed to providing abortion care.
“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. I am worried that it is going to get worse … And as a mom myself and as a person — this is what I do for a living, it’s just, it’s heartbreaking, she said.