(WMBD) — Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) and Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI) have announced an official partnership to increase access to reproductive health for citizens of Wisconsin.

PPIL announced Thursday that they have opened the doors of 17 health centers across the state to welcome both abortion providers and abortion seekers from Wisconsin.

Doctors, clinicians, and “abortion navigators” from both Illinois and Wisconsin will use this partnership to provide basic health care in Wisconsin and then assist those needing an abortion with scheduling an appointment in Illinois, as well as supporting with travel to and from the IL clinic.

Despite a speculated shortage of gynecologists in Wisconsin, many doctors and staff from PPWI have committed to traveling to Illinois on a part-time basis to continue to provide abortion services to their patients.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, PPWI and PPIL clinics said they have seen a doubled volume in calls, and PPIL has seen a tenfold increase in patients traveling from Wisconsin. The traveling providers from Wisconsin may help abate this increased demand for care in Illinois.

“This is clear evidence that abortion restrictions and bans do not stop people from having abortions. Restrictions only make it harder for people to access essential reproductive healthcare where they wish,” said PPIL President and CEO Jennifer Welch in Thursday’s press conference.

PPWI is one of two abortion providers in Wisconsin, but they are no longer allowed to perform abortions since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. However, they are still available in-state for people needing access to cancer screenings, contraceptives, and other medical attention.

Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood representatives said, this need for travel to find care does not come as a surprise.

“We have anticipated this difficult moment for years and worked with our health care partners at PPIL and others to do what we can to protect and enhance access to safe, non-judgmental abortion care for patients traveling across state lines,” said Tanya Atkinson, President and CEO of PPWI.

Abortion has been a hot topic of debate since the historic Supreme Court decision, and this press conference was not exempt from criticism.

Amy Gehrke, Executive Director of Illinois Right to Life, criticized Planned Parenthood for, in her opinion, using out-of-state patients for revenue gain.

“Abortion comprises much of [Planned Parenthood’s] revenue,” said Gehrke. “Therefore, it’s no surprise that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Illinois are partnering to bring more women to Illinois, so the abortion giant can profit from the deaths of their children.” 

While Planned Parenthood does not make public a breakdown of revenue gained by service type, the organization’s national medical services data for 2019 to 2020, abortion services make up only 3% of all services provided to patients across the country.

In addition to abortion services and STI testing and treatment, Planned Parenthood provides gender-affirming care, contraceptive prescriptions, cancer screenings, and general health services.