Mayor Lori Lightfoot had a simple message for those worried about their access to abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday.
“Come to Chicago,” Lightfoot said during a news conference with Planned Parenthood and other groups that help provide abortions.
“We will protect you, we will make sure that your rights are respected,” she continued, hours after the expected ruling was finally handed down. “We will make sure that you get access to the health care you deserve.”
The court ruling is likely to result in abortion bans in half of the states, including those that neighbor Illinois. Illinois and Minnesota may be the only upper Midwestern states to see no change in abortion access.
“We’re here, not only to voice our opposition and our outrage to the Supreme Court’s decision, but to reassure our brothers and sisters all across the country that Chicago and Illinois will remain a safe haven for all who value justice,” Lightfoot said.
In 2020, nearly 10,000 people crossed state lines to have an abortion in Illinois, according to Alicia Hurtado with the Chicago Abortion Fund.Hurtado experts about 20,000 more people to now come to the state for abortion care.
“Even under Roe v. Wade, abortion wasn’t accessible to all — the Chicago Abortion Fund and other abortion funds are a testament to the fact that people have been facing legal, financial, logistical and other barriers to care,” Hurtado said. “These barriers will only be more widespread.
“No one should have to travel for health care, but they already do,” Hurtado added. “And there will be more annually coming to Illinois. We need to be ready.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has already announced he will call the General Assembly into special session in the coming weeks to “further enshrine” reproductive protections.
In 2019, Illinois wrote the right to abortion into state law — an extra protection in the event the landmark case was overturned.
But State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, warned Illinois is “only one election away from being like any other state.”
“We have a governor that stands with us,” Bush said. “But be clear, we have (state) Supreme Court races ourselves, in the 1st and 2nd district. If we lose one of them, we could lose control of the Supreme Court here in the state of Illinois, and that means your state rights could be overturned.”
Bush and State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said advocates for abortion rights will use the special session to further strengthen the “firewall” around abortion rights in Illinois.
“We know how to do this, we are a shining example in the Midwest,” Cassidy said. “It is all on the line.”