As a near-total abortion ban in Indiana is set to be enacted, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) has decided to significantly expand access to abortion in his state.
In preparation for Indiana’s impending ban, Pritzker has launched a new initiative, the Complex Abortion Regional Line for Access (CARLA). This nurse-staffed hotline will provide support to patients with complex medical needs, coordinating appointments, pre-operative testing, payment, transportation, and childcare. Several institutions collaborate to run CARLA, including the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Rush University System for Health, and the Chicago Abortion Fund.
Gov. Pritzker states, “In the 13 months since the Supreme Court made the retrograde and disruptive decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, 14 states have outright banned abortions, stripping Americans of their rights to privacy, bodily autonomy and freedom. But in the Land of Lincoln, we’ve doubled down on our commitment to maintain and expand reproductive health access for patients and protect providers.”
Since Roe v. Wade‘s overturning, Illinois has extended abortion rights, creating a “safe haven” for patients from states with abortion bans. Measures protecting out-of-state patients and curbing the tracking of those entering the state for abortions have been signed into law or await signature. The Illinois Department of Public Health has also decided against reporting county-specific abortion statistics to uphold patient privacy and safety.
Another part of the expansion initiative includes a family planning program for those otherwise ineligible due to a Medicaid income threshold. The program will cover services such as annual exams, family planning counseling, FDA-approved contraception methods, basic infertility counseling, cervical cancer screenings, mammograms, abortion care, and transport for family planning visits.
To alleviate the burden on health care providers experiencing higher demand, the state’s capital program, Rebuild Illinois, will provide $5 million in grants to fund more mobile abortion care units. Megan Jeyifo, executive director of the Chicago Abortion Fund, welcomed the CARLA hotline, which will help strengthen their partnership with four major Chicago hospitals and provide access to care as swiftly as possible. Her organization has already seen a dramatic increase in calls and hospital-based patients seeking reproductive care following the Supreme Court’s decision.