ROCKFORD, Ill. - A Wisconsin doctor is working to keep providing abortion services after the Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade. He's working to open up clinics right across the border in Illinois.
The nonprofit behind this push is titled the "Rockford Family Planning Foundation," but its president lives in Wisconsin and she makes it clear that the foundation's goal is to serve Wisconsin women.
Pro-life groups in Illinois say it's an unwelcome consequence of the Supreme Court's ruling.
The Affiliated Medical Services building on Farwell sits dark. The clinic stopped providing abortion services after the Supreme Court ruled the right to abortion is up to each individual state, but it's not lights off for the doctor who owns the clinic.
Dr. Dennis Christensen bought two buildings across the border in Rockford.
Wisconsinite Jeanne Bissell is leading the nonprofit to help get the clinics up and running.
"We have heard some reports of real backups and patients not being able to get an appointment in a timely manner, and that’s really the reason we went into this," said Bissell. "We wanted people to get a good appointment in a convenient, safe and legal location in a timely manner."
Dr. Dennis Christensen
The main clinic will be a comprehensive health center providing both medical and surgical abortions.
Bissell expects it to open within 3 to 6 months.
That's why Dr. Christensen also bought a smaller building in Rockford to set up a medication abortion-only clinic that can open up as soon as possible. They expect it to serve people from multiple states.
"We’ll be getting patients from, we think from eastern Iowa and Wisconsin," said Bissell. "We don’t know. With O'Hare being an hour away, we may be getting patients from almost anywhere."
There is already some pushback in Rockford. The Rockford Family Initiative has been protesting outside the would-be clinics, hoping they will never open.
The group does not want Illinois to become a destination for abortion care.
"If we welcome these abortion clinics into our area, we are going to see that division, but also, long term, we are going to see a reduction in the dignity of our family life," said Katie Sartino, Rockford Family Initiative volunteer.
Courts are still deciding if Wisconsin's 1849 law banning abortion stands today. Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit to try to block the abortion ban. State Republicans are defending the law and think it should be enforced.