Emily Bazelon has written a fascinating account in the latest New York Times Magazine of the challenges (and successes) in ensuring that women in need of abortion services can access physicians trained to perform abortions and willing to do so. The key paragraph:

Abortion remains the most common surgical procedure for American women; one-third of them will have one by the age of 45. The number performed annually in the U.S. has largely held steady: 1.3 million in 1977 and 1.2 million three decades later. In metropolitan areas, women who want to go to their own doctor for an abortion can ask whether a practice offers abortion when they choose an OB-GYN or family physician. But in 87 percent of the counties in the U.S., where a third of women live, there is no known abortion provider.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, Illinois' situation mirrors that of the nation as a whole. As of 2005, 92% of Illinois counties have no abortion provider, and 34% of Illinois women live in these counties.

It is mind-boggling that a health care service so many women need, and depend on, can be so difficult to access. That one of the reasons we're going on this Road Trip - to learn more about the obstacles faced by Illinoisans as they try to get the reproductive health care that they need, how they overcome those challenges and how we can all help ensure that every woman is able to make her own personal decisions about when and whether to have a child.

crossposted at acluroadtrip.org