MILWAUKEE — Clinics that offer abortion services across the Wisconsin state line are preparing for a potential surge in patients should the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
If the ruling is tossed out Wisconsin state law would criminalize abortions unless the mother's life is in jeopardy.
Clinics in states like Minnesota and Illinois where abortion services are more available are taking steps now.
"We have to make sure that we have adequate staffing, that our doctors are available," said Laurie Casey, executive director at We Health Clinic PA in Duluth, Minnesota.
We Health Clinic PA provides abortion services with reproductive and sexual health care. Casey expects the clinic's number of out-of-state patients seeking abortion care to potentially grow by 25%.
"If Minnesota is going to be a targeted state where abortion care is accessible, there could be more protesters traveling from out of the state and so we want to talk about beefing up our security. Also, just financially, it's going to cost us more to provide services," Casey said.
In 2020, 99% of the 6,430 abortions in Wisconsin were among residents, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Data from neighboring states shows Wisconsinites are getting abortions elsewhere.
In 2020, there were 531 in Illinois. In Minnesota, that number was 548.
According to the Chief Strategy and Operations Officer for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Kristen Schultz, the number of out-of-state patients seeking abortions in that state increased by 30% over the past several months.
"This is an eventuality that we've been preparing for for years," Schultz said.
"We're increasing our own capacity at Planned Parenthood of Illinois with staff infrastructure, technology. Everything that you can think about that you need to expand our ability to provide more access and more care internally. We are doing that."
Both Schultz and Casey said funding partners that help patients cover costs for abortion have already reached out to see how they can help.