SPRINGFIELD — Forty years have gone by since the nation’s highest court handed down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and the number of abortions in Illinois continues to slightly decrease.
In 2011, the most recent year data is available, the number of abortions in Illinois was 41,324, down from 41,859 in 2010, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“The reason for that (decrease) is better forms of birth control,” said Pam Sutherland, vice president for public policy at Planned Parenthood of Illinois. “Our patients now are choosing long-acting reversible contraceptives. These forms of birth control last 3-5 years, which really help prevent unintended pregnancy.”
The decrease, however, doesn’t mean efforts to limit abortions in Illinois won’t stop.
Ralph Rivera, who lobbies for Illinois Citizens for Life, an anti-abortion nonprofit organization, said he thinks that since Roe v. Wade took effect, more Americans are taking an anti-abortion stance, but it would take a great deal of time to overturn the decision.
“I see us winning in the minds and hearts of people,” Rivera said. “We’re not there where we’re seeing Roe v. Wade overturned.”
Previous state legislation, such as the Ultrasound Opportunity Act, which provides that physicians offer women seeking abortions the option to receive an ultrasound before the procedure, did not pass in the previous General Assembly.
Rivera said this is a proposal he would be “looking to see introduced” in the current legislative session.
Another past proposal that looked at making centers that do 50 or more abortions a year comply with the same regulations as ambulatory surgical treatment centers could be introduced again.
“This bill would just say, in effect, you have to meet the same health and safety standards, and so we would hope to see that introduced this year as well,” Rivera said.
Sutherland said she expects to see legislation “to dissuade a woman from having an abortion” introduced again.
“We’re always surprised every year at the types of legislation that are proposed by those who are opposed to Roe v. Wade, so it will be interesting to see what kind of legislation is going to be introduced again this year,” Sutherland said. “It will be very hard for those who oppose abortion rights in Illinois to change Roe in Illinois.”
The debate over abortion in Illinois comes as more than six in 10 of Americans say they would not like to see the court completely overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last week.
The survey, conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,502 adults, also found that 53 percent of the public says abortion “is not that important compared to other issues,” up from 48 percent in 2009 and 32 percent in 2006.
For the full Pew survey, visit www.pewforum.org/Abortion/roe-v-wade-at-40.aspx#about.