On September 1 a fear that many Americans have held since the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came true – abortion became practically illegal in Texas.
Those who are privileged may be able to drive to neighboring states, even as far as the Midwest for care. But Republican leaders in North Dakota, Mississippi, Indiana, Florida, South Dakota and Arkansas have begun looking at adopting similar abortion bans, which leaves people with many questions but a pressing one in particular: What do abortion rights look like in my state?
Reproductive Health Act
Illinois Gov. Pritzker signed SB 25, the Illinois Reproductive Health Act (RHA), into law in June 2019. The RHA established the fundamental right to reproductive health and modernized reproductive rights laws in the state. It includes the right to refuse or accept resources such as contraception, sterilization, abortion, birthing decisions and maternity care.
The “fundamental” right provided under SB 25 means that the government cannot interfere with your reproductive choices, except in rare situations. RHA requires private health insurance plans in Illinois to cover abortion like they do other pregnancy care. Residents of other states are eligible to receive the reproductive health care services available in Illinois, except state-mandated health insurance coverage.
Abortion in Illinois
Abortion is legal in Illinois up to approximately 24 weeks; after that, a person can only have an abortion when there is a medical need.
Although RHA aided in strengthening abortion rights in Illinois, it did not repeal the parental notification act (PNA) for minors seeking abortion care. Anyone under the age of 18 who wants an abortion in Illinois requires parental notification, or consent of a parent or guardian, at least 48 hours before the procedure. Advocates in Illinois are working to overturn PNA in future legislative sessions. There is a judicial bypass program for PNA, and more information on it can be found here.
Unlike other states, Illinois does not enforce biased counseling, mandatory waiting periods or forcing patients to view ultrasounds.
Yet, Title X-funded clinics in Illinois such as Planned Parenthood, suffered from a “gag rule” instituted by the Trump administration in 2019. This meant that many clinics that provide Title X care have lost funding. The Biden Administration is working to restore Title X, but many agonize as residents wait for coverage.
Understanding Your Rights and Accessibility
Abortion seekers over 18 have the right to keep their abortions confidential. Medical providers such as doctors offices and hospitals are not required to offer abortions, but some do. Many associated with religious groups refuse to do so.
Planned Parenthood Illinois provides in-clinic surgical abortion up to 21 weeks and six days and medication abortion, the abortion pill, up to 10 weeks and six days.
Although abortion is more accessible in Illinois, fake clinics dominate the field with almost 90 anti-choice operations in the state. Fake clinics, or anti-abortion fake health centers, are run by anti-choice and often religious volunteers promising aid in pregnancy care. They often have names such as “Pregnancy Options” or “Birthright,” encouraging that a sense of choice is retained, but that is never the case.
Advertisements are plastered on the sides of buses, billboards and benches – luring in abortion seekers with promises of “care” and “resources” coated in anti-choice rhetoric, preying on low-income pregnant people of color.
Another obstacle abortion seekers run into is the price. Even though private insurance and Illinois Medicaid must cover abortion care, not everyone has health insurance, and insurance doesn’t cover all the costs, which include travel and time off from work. Organizations like the Chicago Abortion Fund, National Abortion Federation and the National Network of Abortion Funds provide abortion seekers with financial assistance.
Illinois has protected abortion but should not be seen as a safe-haven of care. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, RHA could be hollowed out by anti-choice legislators. Texas has taught us that nothing is certain, and the fight is far from over.
If you need abortion care in Illinois, check out the following resources: