After having several C-sections, Rachel (name changed for privacy) was at high risk for developing a serious pregnancy-related condition. In addition to potentially causing life-threatening blood loss while in labor, it could require her to undergo surgical removal of the uterus, or a hysterectomy, preventing her from having more children in the future.
Without access to care in her home state due to restrictive legislation, Rachel traveled hundreds of miles to Illinois. She first visited a local community clinic, where she was told they could not help her due to the high-risk nature of her condition. Through a network of providers, Rachel was referred to RUSH’s Family Planning Services Program, which was able to care for her — thanks to a highly trained, interdisciplinary team of expert clinicians.
“We were able to coordinate all of the patient’s care and bring her here to be treated,” said Sadia Haider, MD, MPH, director of the Division of Family Planning at RUSH. “It is likely that — without access to care at RUSH — she would have gone on to have a complicated pregnancy with potential for significant morbidity.”
States with more restrictive abortion policies tend to have higher maternal and infant mortality rates, according to data from the CDC. Under current state law, abortion remains legal in Illinois, and RUSH University Medical Center remains committed to providing the full spectrum of reproductive health services.
Patients like Rachel are not uncommon. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, in 2020 about 10,000 people traveled to Illinois for abortion care. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision overturning Roe v. Wade, this number is expected to increase to 40,000 annually.
The Family Planning Services Program at RUSH partners with providers at medical centers across Chicago and nationally to refer patients requiring complex care.
“At RUSH, we have the capacity to care for patients who require a higher level of care, whether they have complex conditions or comorbidities,” Haider said. “We offer safe, compassionate and confidential abortion care without judgment. Patients are often referred to us because we are one of the few places that has the resources to take care of them.”
Committed to equitable access
RUSH is devoted to ensuring all patients have equitable access to high-quality, affordable reproductive care. Three-quarters of RUSH’s patients seeking abortion care are people with low incomes, and many hail from areas that have experienced systemic disinvestment. To help offset costs and ensure the team can provide holistic care to every patient, RUSH offers a cash payment program for patients who do not have medical insurance, have insurance that RUSH cannot accept or have out-of-state insurance which does not carry over state lines.
The Family Planning Fund was created to cover expenses for medical procedures — which typically range from $6,000 to $7,000 out of pocket for an operating room-based procedure, though can be upwards of $15,000 in more complex cases — along with costs associated with travel, lodging and childcare. Additionally, RUSH’s charity care program may cover the costs of additional care for complex conditions, like pre-operative screening.
“Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the number of cases we’re seeing has almost doubled, and I think this trend will continue,” Haider said. “When the increased need arose, we were all willing to do more to accommodate the higher patient volume we’re seeing.”
The team recently hired a clinical coordinator to help accommodate the increased demand, referrals and associated logistics, including allocating support from the Family Planning Fund.
While Haider and her team are grateful for the support received thus far from donors who have come together to contribute to the Family Planning Fund, the need remains great.
“Philanthropic support is absolutely essential to help our patients,” Haider said. “As more and more patients travel from out of state who don’t have insurance coverage or whose plans aren’t accepted, there will be an even greater need for funds to help offset costs — and in many cases, save lives.”
If you would like to make a gift supporting the Family Planning Fund at RUSH, please visit our online form.