CHAMPAIGN – The Supreme Court ruling in June overturning Roe v. Wade did away with federal protections for abortion rights. The decision returned the power to ban the procedure to states, rendering the country a patchwork of different abortion laws.
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In Illinois, abortion remains legal. But the procedure is banned or restricted in surrounding states, including Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and Iowa.
With access restricted on all sides, Illinois has effectively become an island for patients seeking abortion care in the Midwest.
And that has put a strain on Illinois care providers. Planned Parenthood of Illinois has reported a record number of patients travelling from other states for abortion services in the past year.
A new clinic in central Illinois wants to alleviate some of the pressure on existing clinics.
Dr. Keith Reisinger-Kindle is the founder of Equity Clinic, a reproductive healthcare facility that will open in Champaign February 11.
Reisinger-Kindle, who is based in Ohio, said there has been a longstanding need for more services in Illinois.
“Prior to even the Supreme Court decision, the clinics in the Chicago area, as well as the St. Louis suburbs were really under a lot of pressure,” he said. “The demand was very high, the wait times were starting to get long.”
Once Roe was overturned, Reisinger-Kindle said, “that need dramatically increased very, very quickly.”
The recent arson attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Peoria has strained Illinois resources even further, he said. The Peoria clinic will be closed for several months, leaving one less provider in the state.
Reisinger-Kindle said abortion services were already difficult to access for many patients. He now fears access will be even harder to come by.
“And unfortunately, the patients who are more likely to suffer when access is an issue are patients of a lower socioeconomic status, patients of color, (and) LGBT patients,” said Reisinger-Kindle.
For many patients, language barriers, low income, and lack of transportation or childcare make it difficult to access abortion services.
“It all kind of stacks up to create what is for some people completely insurmountable restrictions to access,” said Reisinger-Kindle.
He said the Champaign Clinic will offer financial and travel assistance to some patients and will be open on weekends to allow for more flexible scheduling.
Reisinger-Kindle said the clinic is committed to addressing disparities in reproductive healthcare.
“And that’s why our founding is so centered on those groups and helping support their access to care. Because they’re the ones suffering the most right now,” he said.