Report Shows Uptick In Abortion In Some States
The Society of Family Planning has issued a “#WeCount Report,” which features a state-by-state look at what has happened to abortion and reproductive rights after the June 24 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which struck down federal abortion protections established in 1972 by the Roe vs. Wade decision.
That report found that previously, abortion numbers state by state were relatively stable. However, after the decision, some states rushed to change laws, including complete abortion bans or restrictions of reproductive care. This dramatically reshaped the abortion landscape.
States like Montana, where the procedure is still protected by state law, generally have seen a surge in number of abortions performed. That has become especially true in states that have kept the procedure legal but neighboring states have banned it.
The Mountain region, which includes Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana increased slightly from 5,610 to 5,760, an increase of 3 percent, since the decision.
However, Montana noted a significant uptick, performing on average less than 10 per month prior to Dobbs, but seeing the average shoot up to 50 in the months of July and August.
“Nevertheless, the increases in numbers of abortions in states where abortion was legal did not compensate for the reductions seen in states where abortion was banned,” the report said. “While the overall decline suggests that many people who need abortions did not travel to other states, we are unable to estimate the number of abortions that occurred outside the formal health care system.”
The report also found that more people using abortion services were traveling out of state in many cases, but that the costs associated with that fall disproportionately.
“The burdens of travel, cost and time are experienced inequitably: People who have low incomes, who must travel further, and who experience other intersecting forms of structural oppression will experience more difficulties in obtaining care both in- and out-of-state,” the report said.
The report compared data from April 2022 with data from August. Nationwide, abortion decreased 6% in numbers – which translated to a drop of 14 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age to 13 per 1,000.
Yet virtual-only clinic visits increased by 33 percent.
States, primarily on the coast, where the procedure appeared to be secure, also saw small increases or no increases in the percentage of abortions provided by a clinician.
Two states, Texas and Oklahoma, were notable because they enacted either a total ban or a 6-week ban on abortion. In Texas, there were 2,770 abortions provided in April. By August, that number had dwindled to less than 10. In Oklahoma in April, there were 510 abortions and that number fell to less than 10 in August.
Some regions saw mixed results. For example, some of the Midwest overall saw no change, despite the difference in state laws like Indiana and Ohio.
The report also found that socioeconomic factors mean that women of color or who are poor face a number of compounding factors in addition to a ban on reproductive care.
“Those who are unable to overcome travel barriers are likely those with the fewest socioeconomic resources; even small declines in the abortion rate still translate into enormous life impacts for those affected,” the report said. “The COVID-19 pandemic and the current economy put people in an even more precarious financial situation further limited the number of people who have the money to pay for a substantial unexpected healthcare expense.”