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Report: more women coming to Illinois for abortions

A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women even know they're expecting.

CHICAGO — More women have been crossing state lines to get abortions in Illinois, according to a report that comes at a time other states are seeking new restrictions on the procedure.

The findings released this week by the Illinois Department of Public Health show more than 5,500 women from other states traveled to Illinois last year for the procedure, up from about 4,500 women in 2016, the Chicago Tribune reported .

Last year, 19 states adopted 63 new abortion restrictions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

Missouri has only one abortion clinic as of October. The state requires abortion providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals and mandates a 72-hour waiting period.

Some of the greatest shifts have been in Iowa, which passed a 20-week limit on the procedure. A 72-hour waiting period for the procedure was blocked by the courts.

Increasing abortion restrictions have forced women to incur additional expenses in order to access a safe, legal abortion procedure, said Becca Lee, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

“When access to abortion is politically restricted, those who have the means to travel will do so, and those without means are left most vulnerable,” Lee said.

Midwest Access Coalition is a Chicago nonprofit that works to offset such travel costs by providing lodging, food and transportation. Nonprofit volunteer Timna Axel, 28, has hosted women from Indiana and Wisconsin in recent years.

“It seems like a lot of these (nearby) states have increased the barriers to abortion and other health care for women in recent years,” she said. “It doesn’t seem right there should be this island of health care access in Chicago.”

The increase in abortions for out-of-state women is a sign of Illinois’ “regressive” approach to protecting pre-born children, said Mary Kate Knorr, the director of Illinois Right to Life.

“Illinois is an outlier amongst our neighbors, whose legislatures have consulted science and found that discouraging abortions is in the best interest of their residents,” she said.

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