Abortion is legal in Illinois.
Many states passed ‘trigger laws’ that banned abortion when Roe v. Wade was struck down. Illinois had a trigger law keeping abortion legal: Governor JB Pritzker signed the Reproductive Health Act into law in 2019.
What is abortion?
An induced abortion is an elective or medically indicated termination of a pregnancy. An induced abortion can be done surgically or by taking medication. There are many reasons a person may have an induced abortion. A person many choose, electively, to end their pregnancy. Or, it may be medically indicated due to maternal or fetal complications of pregnancy.
In Illinois, you can have an elective induced abortion until fetal viability, around 24-26 weeks of pregnancy. A fetus is considered viable if it is able to survive outside of the uterus with or without medical intervention. A healthcare provider must determine whether or not pregnancy has reached viability; viability varies and it is different for every pregnancy. After a pregnancy is determined to be viable, an induced abortion can only be done to protect the patient’s life or physical and mental health. If you are unsure whether or not your pregnancy is viable, speak to a healthcare provider to determine whether or not you can legally have an abortion in Illinois.
Anyone with the biological capability to become pregnant could need an abortion. This includes women, as well as those who identify as transgender or non-binary. People of all gender identities need access to safe abortion care.
Pregnancy Options Counseling
The standard of care for any pregnant person is to provide them with comprehensive pregnancy options counseling. Pregnancy options counseling, or options counseling, is a discussion between a pregnant person and a health care provider, or other support workers that occurs when a pregnant person learns or shares with a provider that they are newly pregnant. Anyone can be trained to provide options counseling, but the information they provide must be medically accurate, non-biased, and comprehensive of all options. There are 3 options when someone is pregnant:
You are entitled to options counseling that presents all 3 options in a neutral and factual way. No one should be directing your decision.
Please note: there are some organizations referred to as Crisis Pregnancy Centers that do not provide the full spectrum of reproductive health services. These centers do not typically provide the standard of care when it comes to counseling. They do not offer abortions or referrals to abortion providers.
It is vital that pregnant people understand all the pregnancy options available to them, including abortion. In Illinois, you are not required to endure a waiting period, view an ultrasound, or take part in state-mandated informational text or video.
There are two kinds of abortion: medication and surgical.
- Medication/Medical Abortion: A medication abortion uses two different medications to end a pregnancy. These pills are sometimes referred to as the “abortion pills.” You can obtain these medications at a medical office or via telehealth through a licensed healthcare provider in Illinois. You will be thoroughly counseled on how to take the medication and what to expect during the medication abortion process once you go home. A medication abortion does not require surgery or anesthesia; however, your provider may want you to get an ultrasound or blood work. You are usually able to have a medication abortion up until 10-11 weeks of pregnancy. It is 95-98% effective at ending a pregnancy.
- You cannot tell the difference between a medication induced abortion and a spontaneous abortion. If you have complications with a medication abortion and seek medical care because of it, you do not have to tell the medical provider taking care of you that you had an induced medication abortion.
- Surgical Abortion: A surgical abortion is a procedure that is usually done in a medical office with anesthesia and pain-relieving medication. It usually takes less than 5-10 minutes. A surgical abortion can be performed in a one- or two-day procedure, depending on how many weeks pregnant you are. After the procedure, you will be monitored briefly and go home the same day. Oftentimes, you will need to have someone take you to the procedure and pick you up. It is 99% effective at ending a pregnancy. You are usually able to have an elective surgical abortion up until 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Every pregnant person’s situation is different. Your medical history, personal preferences, and ability to access care may play a role in what type of abortion you have. Speak with a healthcare provider to determine what the best abortion option is for you.
As with any medical intervention or procedure, medication and surgical abortions have risks associated with them. However, these risks are rare and overall abortion is very safe. Having an abortion does not impact future fertility. In fact, fertility returns quickly after an abortion. If you are interested in birth control, talk to your healthcare provider about birth control options.
If you are seeking an abortion, make sure you choose an abortion provider that accepts your insurance plan. In Illinois, Medicaid and all private insurance plans that cover pregnancy-related care must cover the cost of an in-office abortion. Some insurance plans only cover in-office services. Click here to learn about what is covered by private insurance.
If you desire an abortion via telehealth, check with your insurance provider to ensure that they cover telehealth abortion services. Alternatively, some telehealth abortion providers do not accept insurance and you must pay out of pocket for services.
Minors in Illinois
If you are under 18 years old and need an abortion in Illinois, you do not need to notify or get permission from a parent or legal guardian. Previously, there was a parental notice law in Illinois, but it was repealed. This became effective on June 1, 2022. Additionally, you are not required to speak with a counselor or social worker about your decision unless you want to. If you desire to speak with a social worker or counselor, tell your healthcare provider.
Please note that some telehealth abortion providers do not provide services to people who are pregnant and under the age of 18.
Out of State Support
If you live outside of Illinois, you may be able to leverage telehealth Abortion Providers through the mail for a medication abortion:
No state has banned people from traveling to another state to receive an abortion. If you live in a state that limits abortion access you can travel to Illinois, where abortion remains legal, to receive comprehensive reproductive health services.
If you are seeking an abortion in Illinois but traveling from out of state it is important that you:
- Call ahead when you schedule your appointment to let them know that you are traveling.
- You may be able to receive a telehealth visit ahead of your appointment.
- You may need to stay overnight for a two-day procedure.
- Bring your ID and insurance information to your appointment.
- Speak with a healthcare provider to determine what the best abortion option is for you.
- Resources and training from ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
- If you would like more information and training regarding pregnancy options counseling, you can find virtual training opportunities for options counseling here. Onsite training and technical assistance are also available.
Some Key Take Aways
- Access to comprehensive reproductive health care services, including abortion care, is essential to individual health and well-being.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information about access to and coverage of reproductive health care and resources. Visit reproductiverights.gov to learn more.
- On July 11th, 2022 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidance and communication to ensure all patients — including pregnant women and others experiencing pregnancy loss — have access to the full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law.
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule (Privacy Rule) supports such access by giving individuals confidence that their protected health information (PHI), including information relating to abortion and other sexual and reproductive health care, will be kept private.
- The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requires that, for any individual showing up to the hospital with an emergency medical condition, the hospital is required to provide life-saving emergency care, including abortion care.
- Medication abortion has been approved by the FDA since 2000 as a safe and effective option. Federal regulation permits medication abortion to be dispensed by telehealth and sent by mail via certified prescribers and pharmacies, in addition to in-person dispensing in clinics, medical offices, and hospitals.
- Do not assume anything about your patients and their feelings about their pregnancy. Hold space for them to have a range of emotions.
- Many more people seeking reproductive health care and abortion care will be coming to Illinois. This may include people with disabilities. People with disabilities can include those who are blind/low vision, deaf/hard of hearing, have intellectual or developmental disabilities or use wheelchairs or have mobility disabilities. Many individuals with disabilities may have more than one disability. We have complied some resources here.
- Please remember that transgender and non-binary people need abortions, too.
On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. This court case has been the bedrock of the right to choose abortion since 1973, along with Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which affirmed Roe in 1992. With the end of federal protections for abortion, the decision to outlaw abortion will be left up to individual states. Many states, including Texas and Oklahoma, passed restrictive laws that effectively ban abortion. With Roe struck down, there are huge geographical areas of the country without legal abortion protections. Further, access to overall reproductive healthcare including contraception and fertility treatment, is at risk of being eroded across the country.
Abortion is legal under Illinois law now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, since anti-abortion laws were repealed under the Reproductive Health Act, signed into law by Governor Pritzker on June 12, 2019. States like Illinois, and specifically cities like Chicago, were already destinations for those seeking abortion care services. States in the region have already passed restrictive abortion laws and created environments hostile to abortion clinics and through targeted regulation of abortion providers. Many people who need abortions face logistical and financial barriers beyond finding a health care provider – they must arrange to travel many miles, stay overnight, and manage follow up care. This makes abortion care unique among other health care services.
Abortion is a common procedure; 1 in 4 women will undergo one in their lifetime. Data shows that the majority of those choosing abortion are already parents - nearly 60% of people seeking abortion already have at least one child. Reasons for having an abortion are varied and can be complex, but it should only be a decision reached by a pregnant person with their health care provider. With the burden of maternal mortality falling disproportionately to Black and Latinx communities, forcing individuals to continue unwanted or mistimed pregnancies risks exacerbating this inequity.
CDPH’s mission is to work with communities and partners to create an equitable, safe, resilient, and Healthy Chicago. CDPH’s work is guided by its community health improvement plan, Healthy Chicago 2025, which is focused on racial and health equity. This includes ensuring that all individuals have control over their own reproductive health care and decide if, when, and how to become a parent. Healthy Chicago 2025’s assessment theme of "Improve systems of care for populations most affected by inequities," includes:
- Establishing and promoting a comprehensive resource information and referral system.
- Advocating to increase comprehensive and culturally appropriate healthcare for all by removing eligibility barriers, implementing sustainable reimbursement rates, and expanding coverage for preventive services and root causes.
The City of Chicago is providing funding to support individuals across Chicago and Illinois, as well as residents from other states, who are seeking abortion care services in our city. The intent of this funding is to build capacity for organizations that provide such assistance. Learn more about the Justice for All Pledge here.
On July 28, 2022, Mayor Lori Lightfoot signed an Executive Order, prohibiting any City agency from participating in an investigation or proceeding initiated in or by another state that seeks to impose civil or criminal liability or professional sanctions against a person or entity for providing legal reproductive healthcare in the State of Illinois and/or aiding any person seeking legal reproductive healthcare in Illinois. In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the City of Chicago is taking these steps to safeguard further those providing critical healthcare, namely reproductive, obstetric, and gynecological services.