New data shows increase in abortions in states near bans compared to 2020 data

States bordering those bans saw upticks in the number of abortions performed.

September 7, 2023, 12:03 AM

Newly released data from the Guttmacher Institute shows a sharp increase in the first six months of 2023 in estimated abortions performed in states bordering those with abortion bans and in states that have protections for access to abortion.

States that saw an increase in the number of abortions performed over that six-month period included Kansas, New Mexico and South Carolina, which Guttmacher said is likely due in large part to out-of-state patients who traveled to access care.

"The study has documented substantial increases in abortions in many states bordering those where abortion has been banned, indicating that significant numbers of residents of states with abortion bans are traveling to neighboring states for abortion care," Guttmacher researchers wrote in a policy analysis.

The state with the largest estimated increase in abortions from January to July 2023 compared to the same period in 2020 was Illinois; Guttmacher estimates the state saw 18,300 additional abortions.

PHOTO: Abortion-rights activists gather in front of the Supreme Court after the Court announced a ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization case, June 24, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
Abortion-rights activists gather in front of the Supreme Court after the Court announced a ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization case, June 24, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

California had the second largest increase in abortions, with Guttmacher estimating it had 12,300 additional abortions in the 2023 period compared to the same period in 2020. The third largest increase was in New York, where there were 9,950 additional abortions, according to Guttmacher.

North Carolina closely trails behind New York, with 9,000 additional abortions being performed in the state. A 12-week abortion ban was allowed to mostly go into effect in July, further restricting the limit from 20 weeks. North Carolina borders several states in the south that have ceased nearly all abortion services.

Florida had an estimated additional 4,950 abortions performed in that period. Abortion access could become severely restricted in Florida as the Florida Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on a challenge to the state's 15-week abortion ban on Friday. If the ban is upheld, a six-week trigger ban will go into effect.

Estimated Change in the Number of Abortions
Estimated change in the number of abortions provided by the formal health care system january to june 2023 compared to a similar period in 2020
ABC News / Guttmacher Institute

The data collected by Guttmacher only accounts for abortions performed in brick-and-mortar health facilities and medication abortions provided over Telehealth or virtual providers, according to the Institute. The study does not include data on self-managed abortions, which Guttmacher defined as abortions that occurred without in-person or virtual contact with the formal health care system.

The Guttmacher data indicates the magnitude of the disruption caused by the Dobbs ruling. Guttmacher estimates that in 2020, there were 113,630 abortions across the 14 states where abortion services have ceased since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, indicating that tens of thousands of people may now be traveling for abortion, seeking abortions by other means or unable to obtain an abortion at all.

Guttmacher said it collected data from samples of providers, which it combined with "extensive historical facility-level data on variations in caseloads over time," according to Guttmacher.

WeCount -- a national research project focusing on abortion and contraception led by the Society of Family Planning -- released data on abortions that it collected by surveying clinicians providing abortions throughout the country, documenting the total volume of abortions performed in the U.S.

Estimated Number of Abortions
Estimated number of abortions provided by the formal health care sector in the US from January–June 2023
ABC News / Guttmacher Institute

WeCount data revealed a similar trend in an uptick of abortions being performed in states bordering bans.

Guttmacher said it is launching a new study that will track abortions month-to-month to monitor the impact restrictive and protective state laws have on access to abortion care.

"For instance, we now have baseline data for the number of monthly abortions we would expect to see in North Carolina in 2023, which we can use to help estimate the impact of the 12-week ban that went into effect July 1," Kelly Baden, vice president of public policy at the Guttmacher Institute, said in a statement.

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