Eight months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Illinois has become pivotal to neighboring states who have lost access to abortion care. Although the total number of abortions in the U.S. dropped, a Society of Family Planning report showed that the number of abortions in Illinois increased by 28% from April to August 2022.
“We definitely see a lot of Illinois addresses in our practice,” said Dr. Mary Bowman, an abortion provider at Choix.
Choix is a telehealth clinic providing abortion and reproductive healthcare to patients completely remotely. The California-based organization serves six states, including Illinois. To support Choix’s efforts, Chicago for Abortion Rights (CFAR), a network of activists and community members fighting for reproductive freedom, hosted a fundraiser and moderated discussion on the importance of medical abortion.
“I think the more people who know about it and can just talk to everybody in their communities about it, the better. I think we’re kind of thinking of it as an educational event as well as a fundraiser to build awareness for Choix and raise money at the actual event,” said Anne Rumberger, CFAR Coordinator.
So, what are the benefits of telehealth abortion? Dr. Bowman said it cuts down the time between finding out you’re pregnant and scheduling a doctor’s appointment, giving people the option to start the process immediately.
“We have provided the earliest abortions in the history of modern medicine,” they said. “Oftentimes the same day that someone has gotten a positive pregnancy test, I’ve processed all of their forms and I send the medication.”
Choix also offers advance provision, abortion pills for future use. These mifepristone and misoprostol pills cost $289 and require patients to fill out a short questionnaire, text with a Choix provider who will review their medical history and, if no additional steps are required, the medications will arrive within 3 to 5 days.
Dr. Bowman said that these medications cause uterine cramping and contractions to pass the pregnancy, similar to a miscarriage. Patients may experience heavy bleeding, nausea, and feeling weak or tired, so they recommend patients allow themselves time and a safe space to relax while going through the process, if possible.
In terms of emotions and psycho-social effects, it really varies by person.
“Sometimes people feel loss or grief, which is totally normal and really common, and actually not talked about very much especially in the abortion rights movement where it’s like no, everybody loves their abortions,” Dr. Bowman said. “You can still feel like this is the right decision and have complex feelings about what it is.”
According to Dr. Bowman, Choix is facing funding issues and needs $1 million to continue operating at the same capacity.
“We’ve all found that funders are not showing up for abortion and putting their money where their mouth is,” they explained, citing companies that express verbal support for reproductive justice but don’t offer financial support. They said that small providers, like Choix, especially need funding.
“Typically I wouldn’t say don’t give money to Planned Parenthood, but they don’t need your money as much as independent providers do.”
Because sharing information is a vital part of the upcoming fundraiser, ticket sales are donation based.
“We really wanted to make sure that the event was accessible to people so we didn’t want to charge any money for people to go,” said Rumberger, who hopes this event will help people get plugged into the work CFAR does.
“When you’re seeking community support, I think you’re just happy to get whatever people can give,” explained Dr. Bowman.
If you missed the in-person event on Sunday, a livestream video of the event is available on the Pilsen Community Bookstore’s YouTube channel. You can also make a donation directly to Choix here.