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Planned Parenthood of Illinois prepares for huge spike in demand with abortion restrictions expected in all neighboring states

Planned Parenthood of Illinois prepares for huge spike in demand for abortion services
Planned Parenthood of Illinois prepares for huge spike in demand for abortion services 02:56

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Every state that borders Illinois has or could soon have restrictions on abortion in the wake of the striking down of Roe v. Wade.

The result is going to be a huge demand on abortion services in Illinois. CBS 2's Chris Tye on Monday looked into the question of whether providers will be ready.

There are 17 Planned Parenthood offices in Illinois, and the race is on to hire clinical and clerical staff at each. They expect tens of thousands of women to cross into Illinois as the Land of Lincoln becomes the land of abortion access for the Midwest.

The consequence of the increased demand is that long wait times and long journeys are ahead for thousands of women needing abortions in states bordering Illinois.

In Wisconsin, protests have erupted over an 1849 state law still on the books, which makes an abortion a felony. Still, when Wisconsin women use an online abortion finder to help find care, it directs them out of state, with a message reading: "Providers in Wisconsin have temporarily paused or stopped scheduling abortion services. Results are shown for places out of state where you can still get an abortion.

Those places are all in Illinois – and the demand is poised to create a run on Illinois resources.

Tye asked Dr. Amy Whitaker, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, whether her organization has the staff, manpower, facilities, and equipment to handle what is coming.

"We are working on it," Whitaker said. "We definitely have the facilities."

Whitaker points to two facilities.

It is not a coincidence the Waukegan Planned Parenthood facility, built two years ago, is eight miles from the Wisconsin state line. Their Flossmoor facility is 12 miles from the Indiana state line.

In Indiana, abortion is still legal for now. But the Indiana General Assembly convenes next week for an emergency session and is likely to change the law.

And back in Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers supports resuming abortion services, as do residents, according to polling. But so far, the Wisconsin State Legislature is showing no signs of repealing that 1849 law.

How is Planned Parenthood bracing for what is about to come?

"We have been preparing for this moment for a long time, and we are working very hard to meet the increase demand," Whitaker said.

Planned Parenthood estimates 30,000 additional patients could travel to Illinois for abortions in the next year.

"I expect us to be able to rapidly and very efficiently increase access to care, to be able to take care of the patients from surrounding states," Whitaker said.

While Planned Parenthood of Illinois is making a push for workers and demand for similar workers in neighboring states dwindles, it is not so simple as staffers from states with restrictions hopping the state line and taking jobs in Illinois. Licensing and credentialing for medical employment often takes weeks or months.

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