Millennium Park, Navy Pier, dozens of state parks, zoos and museums and the Abraham Lincoln Library; despite dozens of famous attractions, the State of Illinois began highlighting a different legacy this month. Beginning last week, drivers heading into Illinois were treated to billboards that featured the state’s progressive stance on abortion.
The new billboards are posted along I-55, a busy highway that runs from Missouri to Illinois. They were posted by a local abortion provider hoping to drum up business from the adjacent state, according to local paper the River Front Times. The Hope Clinic is an abortion clinic in Granite City. They often get patients from Missouri, which has more protective laws for the unborn.
The billboard reads:
“Welcome to Illionois, where you can get a safe, legal abortion”
According to a spokesperson for the abortion provider, Alison Dreith, about 50% of the customers the clinic receives are from Missouri. They cross the border because of Illinois’ slack protections for the unborn. Missouri’s more stringent laws require physicians to be on duty in clinics providing abortions – as a result, most clinics have closed. There is only one clinic still open in the state.
Missouri also has a mandatory waiting period of 72 hours. This means that a customer has to have a consultation first, then wait for three days before having an abortion. Those 72 hours to think about terminating a life are too long and frustrating for many, according to Dreith, and can be very upsetting.
“It’s not only taxing on your time and your wallet, but also your emotions,” Dreith said.
Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, Dreith stated that the Hope Center is only 10 minutes from St. Louis, and that their services are essential for those in the neighboring state.
“People in St. Louis will always know, because they’re in this major metropolitan area, that there’s some kind of option for them,” Dreith said. “But especially as we get into rural parts of southern Illinois or southwest Missouri, for example, you don’t always know that organizations or people like us are fighting for you because you’re so far removed and living your day to day life.”
The billboard was purchased by the clinic and inspired by one in Colorado. The Colarado abortion billboard is right near the Utah border, and was sponsored by ProgressNow. Dreith claims the Hope Center’s billboard is a way to get the message out to vulnerable communities and to reduce the stigma of having an abortion. The ironically named “Hope Center” wants to be sure that everyone knows they can get a fast and easy abortion just moments from the border. This billboard is part of their effort to support those seeking to terminate pregnancies.