CHAMPAIGN — As Indiana’s near-total abortion ban goes into effect, the Champaign Planned Parenthood location has reworked its facility to add in-clinic abortions to its services for the first time in its history.

Champaign’s Planned Parenthood is now the second location in central Illinois, and seventh statewide, to offer in-clinic abortions along with medication-induced options for patients.

“We anticipated Indiana residents losing access to abortion care, so we decided to expand our care in Champaign,” Jennifer Welch, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said in a statement issued to The News-Gazette.

Indiana’s ban on abortions is due to take effect today.

Planned Parenthood’s Champaign Health Center renovated its first floor area to add two procedure rooms, a recovery room, two waiting rooms, four consultation rooms, two ultrasound rooms, one lab and one clinicians’ office — and has doubled its staff, according to a spokesperson.

The location first filed its building permits for the alteration in January, city records show.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June, which overturned Roe v. Wade and ended federal protection of the right to an abortion, Illinois Planned Parenthood locations have seen more out-of-state abortion patients than ever before.

“July was the highest number of out-of-state patients we’d ever seen, and August was higher than that,” said Julie Uhal, manager for Planned Parenthood’s SAFE abortion expansion program.

In the last year, Planned Parenthood of Illinois has typically scheduled about 100 out-of-state patients per month. In the first week after the Dobbs decision, it scheduled 750 out-of-state appointments.

In August, nearly 30 percent of Planned Parenthood of Illinois’ abortion patients weren’t from the state. In 2020, there were 50,000 abortions performed in Illinois, and about 20 percent of patients were from out of state.

“We’ve been anticipating this long enough that we’ve had plans in place to increase in capacity to go up with that demand,” Uhal said. “So far, we’ve been able to accommodate it.”

Uhal’s team has worked with Planned Parenthood staffs in adjacent states to expand abortion care as new restrictions or bans on the procedure have gone into effect.

In July, Planned Parenthood announced that its Wisconsin abortion providers would travel to Illinois several days a week to keep up with appointment demand at the Waukegan Health Center. Since Roe was overturned, abortions are now illegal in Wisconsin, with narrow exceptions.

In all, Illinois’ Planned Parenthood expects a surge of 20,000 to 30,000 new abortion patients every year post-Dobbs. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, Illinois locations have seen a 50-times increase in patients coming from Ohio and Tennessee — the former passed a law banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, usually after six weeks, unless the mother could face death or serious injury. (An Ohio judge issued a temporary block of the law on Wednesday.)

The Illinois legislature passed a bill protecting abortion rights statewide in May 2019. Patients can seek an abortion until fetal viability, around 24 to 26 weeks of gestation, with no restrictions.

After General Assembly action, Illinois minors are no longer legally obligated to notify a parent or guardian to get an abortion, as of June of this year.

“We’re so lucky to live in a government that is so pro-choice,” Uhal said.

“Indiana’s draconian abortion ban does not stop people from having abortions; it only makes it more difficult for people to access abortion in a safe and timely manner,” Welch said. “PPIL is dedicated to serving the patients who face the most barriers to accessing care and to ensuring that all people, regardless of their financial situation, have access to high-quality, confidential reproductive health services.”

Ethan Simmons is a reporter at The News-Gazette covering the University of Illinois. His email is esimmons@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@ethancsimmons).

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