According to the Chicago Sun-Times, abortion is at a ten year high in Illinois. There are a couple factors being credited for the 5% increase in abortion rates since 2007. The first of those reasons being the plummeting economy. Dave Mckinney reports,
The state’s main provider of abortion services has heard from its clients that the economy is a factor in their decisions, said Steve Trombley, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Council’s Chicago area chapter.
“When couples are facing an unintended pregnancy and have to make a decision whether they want to carry pregnancy to term and have another child, they’ll factor economic circumstance into the decision,” Trombley said. “If one or both parents is unemployed, it’s less likely couples are going to want to expand their family size.”
On top of the recession impacting women’s decision to opt for an abortion, the new clinic in Aurora has also contributed to making abortion more accessible in Illinois. Unfortunately, the increase in abortion rates has also caused a bit of an uproar among anti-choice advocates in the state; my ultimate fear being that religious nutjobs will cite this increase as a justification for more restrictive abortion laws. Robert Gilligan, executive director of the anti-abortion Catholic Conference of Illinois, for example, blames the increasing number of abortions on the opening of Aurora’s Planned Parenthood Clinic in 2007. In addition, Gilligan blames a lack of restrictive regulations, such as parental notification, for the sudden increase.
Gilligan said he thinks other factors also are driving the statewide increase, starting with a lack of “common-sense laws” restricting abortion. He cites the long-stalled parental notification law that is tied up in litigation despite having passed the Illinois General Assembly in 1995.
His group and others have pushed for changes in law to require women to witness ultrasound images of their fetuses before abortion and to impose mandatory waiting periods, but those approaches have not gained legislative traction.
I’ll stick with my last opinion on ultrasound laws; they are invasive and pathologize women.
Something the article, or Gilligan for that matter, fails to mention, is the lack of comprehensive sex education in Illinois. Nearly two out of five Illinois students learn that abstinence is their only method of birth control, while the other three out of five students learn about sex in a shameful, demonizing way, providing only alarmist misinformation about sex and sexuality. RH Reality Check also reports that Illinois receives one of the largest sums of federal dollars for Abstinence-only education.
The federal government, through Title V, Section 510 and Community-Based Abstinence Education grants, has allocated the state of Illinois more than $7.5 million to provide abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to students, parents and community groups. That’s the sixth-highest disbursement in the nation
Although the emphasis on Abstinence-only education is up for debate in the Spring, the status quo is failing to provide Illinois students with adequate education on how to prevent pregnancy. I think that can more-than-account for the sudden increase in abortion rates among 14 year-olds that Gilligan loves to reference as a justification for invasive parental notification laws. If we expect kids to be honest with their parents about abortion — we should probably start by trusting them with honest information about sex.
Andrew (AJ) is a vehement progressive, youth activist, and reproductive justice organizer. When he's not busy with the movement, you can usually find him dancing in the club or watching trashy reality tv.