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Illinois Steps Up with CARLA: Coordinating Care for Out-of-State Patients After Roe v. Wade Overturn

CAF Executive Director Megan Jeyifo shares remarks with Governor Pritzker, Lt. Governor Stratton, and other CARLA Hotline program partners on 7/31/2023 at UIC
CAF Executive Director Megan Jeyifo shares remarks with Governor Pritzker, Lt. Governor Stratton, and other CARLA program partners on 7/31/2023 at UIC

In 2022, a seismic shift occurred in the women's reproductive rights landscape when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a ruling that protected women's right to choose for half a century. The decision sent shockwaves nationwide, leading to a patchwork of state regulations and services. Its repercussions were felt immediately, with a 54% rise in patients seeking both medication and procedure abortions. Moreover, the demand for financial and travel assistance more than doubled, emphasizing the challenges many women face in accessing essential reproductive health care. Amidst this tumultuous backdrop, Illinois emerged as a bastion of hope and support for women within and beyond its borders.

The Surge in Demand in Illinois

The ripple effects of the Roe v. Wade overturn were immediately felt in Illinois, with a dramatic surge in patients seeking abortion services. The demand for medication and procedure abortions rose by 54%, highlighting the state's pivotal role in the post-Roe v. Wade landscape.

Recognizing the upcoming challenges, Illinois had proactively anticipated the Supreme Court’s decision. The state embarked on a path of preparation, ensuring that the necessary infrastructure and services were in place to meet the rising demand. This forward-thinking approach was further solidified by the Illinois Legislature's efforts to create a conducive environment for abortion providers by removing several restrictive measures.

Illinois didn't just cater to its residents; it assumed a national role. With the allocation of over $1 million in funds, the state extended its support to those from outside its borders, further underscoring its commitment to women's reproductive rights.

Legal provisions also played a part in shaping Illinois' response. Abortion care remains legal in the state, and legislative measures have been taken to shield providers from out-of-state laws that might impede their work.

Collaborative efforts have been at the heart of Illinois' response. With the creation of CARLA – the Complex Abortion Regional Line for Access – Illinois brought together various institutions to offer a streamlined and coordinated approach to care, ensuring that those with complex medical needs don't fall through the cracks.

Illinois' Lifeline: CARLA – The Complex Abortion Regional Line for Access

In the wake of increasing demands and the unique challenges faced by out-of-state and high-risk patients, Illinois introduced CARLA – the Complex Abortion Regional Line for Access. This hotline is a pivotal point of contact for those seeking abortion services, especially when faced with intricate medical scenarios.

CARLA isn't just a call center; it's a nexus of support and coordination. With dedicated nurses at the helm, it assists in coordinating the logistics for patients, ensuring they receive the right care at the right time.

But Illinois didn't stop there. Alongside CARLA, a $5 million fund has been allocated. This fund aims to bolster the infrastructure of abortion care in the state, aiding providers in expanding their capacity through new construction, security upgrades, and even facilitating mobile care units. The underlying goal is to bring care closer to those who need it, irrespective of location or medical complexities.

Furthermore, CARLA champions equity. It seeks to bridge the gap for those facing disproportionate financial and logistical barriers, especially patients who require hospital-based care due to intricate medical needs. CARLA represents Illinois' commitment to ensuring every woman can access essential reproductive health care regardless of circumstances.

Voices from the Ground

The statistics and initiatives, while important, only paint part of the picture. The voices of the affected individuals genuinely bring to light the gravity of the situation.

Jennifer Welch underscores the strategic efforts made by Planned Parenthood:

“We built a health center by the Indiana border, we built a health center in Waukegan by the Wisconsin border...”

A healthcare professional witnessing the surge in demand notes:

“It is not surprising, but it’s obviously devastating that such a severe increase happened in such a short period of time.”

One patient heartbreakingly captures the emotional and logistical turmoil faced by women:

“What do I do? Who do I call? Where do I go?...”

Highlighting the challenges of coordinating care, a provider points out:

“The thing that changes is the race to get someone into a hospital...”


The overturning of Roe v. Wade marked a watershed moment in the history of women's reproductive rights in the U.S. States found themselves at crossroads, each choosing its path in the new landscape. Illinois chose to lead, not just in offering services but in championing women's rights, choices, and well-being. Their comprehensive approach, from establishing CARLA to proactively preparing for increased demand, is a testament to the state's unwavering commitment.

Change Peoria stands firmly with Illinois in this endeavor. We believe in a woman's right to choose, and we applaud and support the efforts of Illinois in advancing abortion access. These initiatives go beyond merely providing a service; they symbolize hope, resilience, and the pursuit of justice in challenging times. As we move forward, it's crucial to remember and champion the states and organizations that prioritize the well-being of women, ensuring that their rights are protected and celebrated.


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