Planned Parenthood WI to refer abortion patients to partners in Illinois if Roe overturned

MADISON, Wis. – Planned Parenthood Wisconsin plans to partner with the organization’s Illinois chapter to provide Wisconsinites access to abortions should Roe v. Wade be overturned. 

Planned Parenthood Wisconsin’s Director of Legal Advocacy and Services, Michelle Velasquez, said the reproductive healthcare provider had been planning for a worst-case scenario for months since the U.S. The Supreme Court first decided to take on the case.

“It absolutely foreshadows what we have been thinking about,” Velasquez said of the leaked Court decision draft. “It was absolutely an alarm and a signal that Roe would be at minimal undermined if not totally overturned.”

Velasquez also said without the protection of Roe v. Wade, Wisconsin clinics would have to pause abortion services and instead refer patients to Illinois.

She said Planned Parenthood Illinois would prioritize abortion patients, but in order to help manage the expected influx, Wisconsin clinics would handle intake and aftercare, and even take on patients from Illinois seeking other reproductive healthcare.

Representatives from the Midwest Access Coalition, which provides abortion seekers support, said people seeking abortions across state lines would increase if Roe v. Wade was overturned but the concept is not new, even with the case’s legal protection.

According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, access to abortions in Illinois is something hundreds of Wisconsinites take advantage of each year.

From 2016 to 2020, an average of 520 people from the Badger State traveled to neighboring Illinois to get an abortion.

“Just because abortion has existed in a legal context for close to 50 years through Roe v. Wade in the U.S does not mean at all that it’s been accessible,” said MAC’s Director of Programs Marie Khan.

Khan said this is due to the limited number of clinics in Wisconsin, legally required waiting periods, and stigmatization of abortions in the Dairy State.

Khan is worried if Roe v. Wade is overturned, MAC may have to turn people away from funding that would typically provide patients access to travel expenses and accommodations for childcare, in addition to covering procedure and medication costs.

“This is the scary part, because that funding is going to become–is becoming more and more precious by the day,” she said. “Unfortunately, we’re going to have to make tough decisions.”

Planned Parenthood Wisconsin representatives said they don’t have plans to open a facility of their own near the Illinois border, but they said they would support the Illinois chapter opening a new facility in that area to meet demand.