Good afternoon, Chicago.
The landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was overturned by the Supreme Court Friday, ending constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years.
About half of U.S. states are expected to ban abortion following the decision, according to the abortion-rights think tank Guttmacher Institute. Twenty-two states, largely in the South and Midwest, already have total or near-total bans on the books.
Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion, called for the high court to overturn cases establishing protections for contraceptions and same-sex relationships. “Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous’ … we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” he wrote.
Read more below in our special edition of Daywatch.
Abortion providers across Illinois have been preparing for the massive increase in patients expected to travel here for the procedure, writes Tribune’s Angie Leventis Lourgos. Planned Parenthood of Illinois anticipates an additional 20,000 to 30,000 patients will be crossing state lines for abortion care here each year.
“Let me be clear, in Illinois abortion is and will remain legal,” said Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action. “We expect every state that borders Illinois to quickly move to ban or severely restrict abortion access. Tens of thousands of people are now facing a terrible dilemma; flee to a state like Illinois to get an abortion, carry a pregnancy against their will or seek an illegal means to end their pregnancy.”
This is on top of the increasing number of patients who have already been traveling here to terminate a pregnancy in recent years, as nearby states enacted more restrictions on the procedure, including gestational limits, mandatory waiting periods and strict regulations on providers and clinics.
Illinois will be “ground zero in the abortion debate,” said Amy Gehrke, executive director of the anti-abortion group Illinois Right to Life.
The group’s immediate focus will be contacting women coming to Illinois to seek abortions from out of state and connecting them with alternatives, and stopping other pro-abortion rights legislation from advancing in the Illinois General Assembly.
Longer term, anti-abortion officials said they wanted to see a restoration of the state’s parental notice law that required parents of minors to be informed when their child sought an abortion and new laws requiring clinics providing abortions to be subject to more stringent health inspections.
Referencing himself as “the most pro-choice governor in the entire nation,” Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday called for lawmakers to return to Springfield to strengthen the state’s already formidable abortion rights laws.
One proposal under consideration would expand the ranks of medical professionals who are allowed to perform abortions in Illinois.
Some legal experts in the Chicago area say the Supreme Court’s legal reasoning in overturning Roe v. Wade indicates it is willing to revisit landmark cases that legalized contraception, consensual sex between adults and same-sex marriage, writes the Tribune’s John Keilman and Madeline Buckley.
The Tribune in recent weeks interviewed eight women whose lives and work have been profoundly shaped by abortion. They shared their reactions to the end of federal abortion rights protections and their predictions for access to the procedure in a post-Roe future.
Some recounted their own abortion experiences and the formative impact the procedure had on their lives. Some are physicians, analyzing the complexities and nuance of abortion law from a medical perspective. Others have spent years helping women navigate the many legal, logistical and financial barriers to ending a pregnancy.