ST. LOUIS — Illinois abortion providers on Wednesday asked supporters to urge Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his administration to immediately direct more funding toward efforts to improve abortion access, as well as allow providers like nurse practitioners to perform abortions.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling is expected by the end of June that could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a right to an abortion, sending thousands seeking the procedure to abortion-friendly states like Illinois.
"The governor has been a great partner, but as is always true, there is more to be done," said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the chief medical officer for reproductive health services at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, which includes a clinic in Fairview Heights. "We are now just days away from a decision, so time is of the essence. We really need him to step up and lead in this moment."
Planned Parenthood of Illinois and the St. Louis region's affiliate sent out emails across the state Wednesday, asking recipients to urge Pritzker "to act now to ensure Illinois lives up to its promise to be a critical access state to abortion."
The emails included a link to a draft letter that could be signed and instantly sent to the governor's desk.
In 2019, Pritzker signed the Reproductive Health Act, which enshrined reproductive health care — including abortion — as a "fundamental right" in Illinois.
The Democratic governor also signed legislation tossing out a requirement that abortion providers notify an adult family member of any patient under the age of 18 at least 48 hours before the procedure.
When a draft Supreme Court opinion leaked to the press in early May that showed justices were poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, Pritzker called Illinois "a beacon of hope" where lawmakers "will fight like hell" to expand access.
Abortion providers in the state say they need millions in funds to beef up security at clinics, expand facilities and help defray the costs of those having to travel from far distances to get to Illinois for an abortion.
The January opening of the Regional Logistic Center in Fairview Heights has given a glimpse to what the financial needs will be to help those traveling from other states, McNicholas said.