CHICAGO (AP) — More women appear to be traveling to Illinois from out of state to have an abortion, according to Illinois Department of Public Health figures, and activists say it could be because surrounding states have tighter restrictions.

A December state report says more than 4,500 women crossed into Illinois to terminate a pregnancy in 2016. That compares with just over 3,200 abortions provided to out-of-state women in the previous year.

Overall, the number of abortions performed in Illinois dropped from more than 39,800 in 2015 to fewer than 38,400 in 2016, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Both anti-abortion and abortion rights activists speculate that tighter regulations in other Midwest states could be sending more women to Illinois.

Illinois has been expanding abortion access, but many neighboring states, including Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana and Kentucky, have passed restrictions.

"Illinois is surrounded by states with restrictive barriers that make it very difficult for patients to get the care they need," said Planned Parenthood of Illinois spokeswoman Julie Lynn.

More permissive laws are detrimental to women and the unborn, said Emily Troscinski, executive director of Illinois Right to Life.

"Illinois has become a dumping ground for other states with our flimsy abortion laws and politicians' flippant attitude toward providing women with resources on all their options," she said.

Troscinski attributed the overall drop in abortions to more young people identifying as "pro-life," as well as resources that provide support to women who have unplanned pregnancies and choose to carry to term. She said she fears that the number of abortions in the state will rise after a state law passed last year expanded taxpayer-subsidized abortions to women covered by Medicaid and state employee insurance.

"For or against abortion, purposefully increasing the number of abortions and forcing those who oppose abortion to pay for the increase is appalling," said Troscinski.


Information from: Chicago Tribune,