Abortion: Become a sanctuary, Illinois organizes itself to welcome women from other states

Sitting on her couch, a cup “Destroy the Patriarchy” by hand, Lori Lamprich recounts her abortion 15 years ago: Back then, the procedure wasn’t as difficult as it is now in her native Missouri, a conservative state in the American Midwest. This prompted the 39-year-old American to join the Midwest Access Coalition (MAC) in 2020, an association that helps women perform voluntary termination of pregnancy (IVG).

“I want to do anything I can do to make the process easier”, she shouted to AFP. At home in St. Louis, Missouri, on the Mississippi’s natural border with the neighboring state of Illinois, having an abortion was challenging. It is now illegal.

Planned Parenthood, the last clinic to perform abortions, was forced to suspend operations on June 23, when this Republican state became the first in the United States to ban abortion after the shocking decision an hour earlier by the Washington Supreme Court that overturned the historic decision.” Roe vs. Wade,” which has guaranteed the federal right to abortion nationwide since 1973.

The federated US states will now be able to authorize or prohibit it. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 26 abortions should end abortion, and a dozen have already tied the knot.

“A completely different world”

From Saint-Louis, population of 300,000, Lori Lamprich only needs to drive over the bridge over the Mississippi and a sign says “Welcome to Illinois”. Abortion is still legal there. “In 20 minutes you step into a completely different world”the volunteer complains.

Several times a month, Lori Lamprich helps women travel to Illinois. And there will be more and more demand for it. “There will be more and more people. All the people who went to Planned Parenthood in St. Louis will have to be taken to Illinois”she explains.

She takes them to the Hope Clinic for Women care center in Granite City. At the entrance, volunteers escort the patients hidden behind rainbow-colored umbrellas.

John, an anti-abortion activist, holds up a sign with a picture of a bloody fetus. “Give yourself the chance to love your child and hold him in your arms”, he calls to the women. A little further on, a dozen faithful Catholics are praying.

For their priest, who wishes to remain anonymous, the Supreme Court ruling does not end his battle. “It’s not really a big win. Abortion is always possible, just take your car”he breathes.

“sanctuary” state

The telephone continues to ring at the Hoopkliniek. “We are still taking appointments”assures a receptionist to a patient on the phone. “You’ve got a long way to go, honey?” another asks: “Five o’clock ?”

Illinois, a state rooted in the Democratic camp, is surrounded by Republican states that have or will soon ban abortion. It will therefore be the only state to offer abortions hundreds of miles around. In 2020, 20% of the 46,000 patients who had an abortion in Illinois were from another state. According to Planned Parenthood, 20,000 to 30,000 more women could attend each year.

Democratic Governor JB Pritzker condemned the “abject” decision of the Supreme Court’s “extremists” and vowed to make his state a “sanctuary” for abortion.

One of the leaders of the Hope Clinic, Julie Burkhart, estimates that abortions can double or triple: “People travel very far to access abortion care. We are an important resource for people from Southern states who are on the brink of losing their right to abortion completely.”

The clinic will have to rent and can only devote itself to abortions.

Influx of patients

Other institutions are preparing for an influx of patients. The Planned Parenthood of Saint-Louis had anticipated and opened a second clinic on the Illinois side in 2019.

In Tennessee, the Choices – Memphis Clinic opens a new facility three hours away in Carbondale, Illinois. This college town was chosen for its train station and strategic location—on the border of Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

But this will come at a cost to the most precarious of women. An abortion costs between $500 and $2,500. It will be necessary to provide transportation, hotel, work stoppage…

The MAC association, which is already helping these women, will have to find more money.

Experts also fear conservative states will prosecute those who help women have abortions elsewhere. “It scares me, but it doesn’t stop me”assures Lori Lamprich. “It’s too important to me”.


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