A pro-choice rally. An activist holds a sign that reads, "My body, my choice."

Photo credit: Grand Warszawski / Shutterstock

An increasing number of women are crossing state lines to have abortions in Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reports. The reason? Reproductive laws in neighboring states have become so restrictive that women are willing to travel long distances just to undergo a safe procedure.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, in 2017, a total of 5,528 out-of-state women traveled to Illinois to terminate their pregnancies. That’s a massive increase from 2016, in which 4,453 women made the out-of-state journey.

“So many states around us are enacting dangerous restrictions that put the health and lives of women at risk, so women have no choice really but to come to Illinois,” said Terry Cosgrove, president and CEO of abortion rights organization Personal PAC. “It isn’t anything but pure misogyny.”

Civics Lesson: “Heartbeat Bills”

A woman in the early stages of pregnancy undergoes an ultrasound.A “heartbeat bill” is an informal title given to legislation that bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (roughly six weeks into a pregnancy). In May 2018, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a heartbeat bill, which banned abortions outside of this date range. Exceptions include instances of rape, incest, or medical emergency. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock

According to a 2017 study from the University of California San Francisco, the Midwest has the fewest abortion clinics in the U.S. This data is based on how many clinics are available per the population of women of a reproductive age.

In Illinois, for example, there are roughly 24 clinics, which equates to approximately one facility for every 120,135 women of childbearing age. In neighboring Wisconsin, there are only three, which equates to one facility for every 423,590 women.

“When access to abortion is politically restricted, those who have the means to travel will do so, and those without means are left most vulnerable,” said Becca Lee, communications manager for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. “If someone can travel, they may be forced to take time from work, incur additional expenses, take time from family, and make other sacrifices in order to access a safe, legal abortion procedure—and they shouldn’t have to.”

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