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'No Woman Should Ever Experience Something Like This:' Women Head To Chicago Abortion Clinics All The Way From Texas, Where Near-Total Ban Is In Effect

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It has been more than a month since Texas' near-total ban on abortions went into effect - leading many women to cross state lines to neighboring states to the point where those states can barely keep up with demand.

As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported Tuesday, some women are traveling much farther – even all the way to Chicago.

The Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood of Illinois said the majority of women are flying in, while others traveling the 1,000 or so miles by car. Over time, they are seeing more and more patients making the difficult trek.

Just days ago, thousands rallied in the Loop - demanding the continued right of women to have access to safe, legal abortions. It is a right that women in Texas who are more than six weeks pregnant no longer have, since the near-total ban took effect Sept 1.

"We started seeing patients within days of that law going into effect," said Dr. Amy Whitaker, an abortion provider and the Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

Whitaker oversees 17 health centers across the state, the majority of them being in the Chicagoland area.

Hickey spoke to one of the Texas patients over the phone – a college freshman who asked us to conceal her identity.

"I was actually just five days over the six-week mark," she said.

The young woman said her first ultrasound was one day after the Texas law passed.

She said she made the difficult decision to travel all the way to Chicago because of the availability of flights.

"It was just so much more pressure on me, even with the situation at hand," she said. "No woman should ever experience something like this."

Dr. Whitaker pointed out that not everyone has the resources to come this far.

"The people it affects the most are the people who are already facing barriers to health care," she said.

Dr. Whitaker says that if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, she expects the number of women coming to Illinois for abortions will grow.

"And Illinois is one of the is the only states in the Midwest that doesn't have a sort of the burden of as many restrictions, as some of our surrounding states," she said, "so we really expect if bans like this keep going into effect, that Illinois is going to see a disproportionate number of patients coming from around the Midwest and around the country."

Last month, Gov. JB Pritzker said, "No one should be forced to cross state lines to see a doctor."

Illinois is one of about 18 states that have expanded or protected abortion access.

There is also the question of whether Planned Parenthood of Illinois might have any concerns about accepting too many patients. Right now, they have the trained medical staff available - and they're not in a position where anyone would be turned away. But if other states move to ban abortions, then that could tax the system.

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