After Roe Was Overturned, Number of Abortions Went Up

Numbers surged in states near those that brought in bans
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2023 11:35 AM CDT
Abortion Bans Led to Surges in Abortion in Nearby States
A protest in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, June 24, 2022, outside the City County Building in downtown Pittsburgh.   (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP, File)

The overturning of Roe v. Wade didn't cause a drop in the number of abortions performed in the US, but there has been a surge in abortion in states close to those that brought in bans, researchers say. The Guttmacher Institute says that between 2020 and the first half of 2023, there was an 89% increase in abortions in Colorado and a 124% increase in South Carolina, Axios reports. New Mexico, the only state bordering Texas that didn't bring in an abortion ban after last year's Supreme Court decision, saw a 220% rise in abortions between 2020 and 2023, according to the institute, which arrived at its estimates after contacting a sample of abortion providers in each state.

The report from the institute, which supports abortion rights, estimates that around 511,000 abortions happened in the first six months of 2023 in the 36 states where it is legal and in Washington, DC, the New York Times reports. The institute estimates that there were around 465,000 abortions nationwide in a six-month period of 2020. But while the statistics suggest people are willing to travel to have abortions, they don't mean that the bans had no effect on access, says lead researcher Isaac Maddow-Zimet. "Just because someone isn't denied an abortion doesn't mean it was an easy experience," he says. "And we know that some can't leave their state." He notes the number of abortions was rising before the Supreme Court decision and may have risen further without it.

Some of the states that saw a rise in abortions expanded abortion rights after the Roe decision was overturned, though a strict ban took effect in one of them, South Carolina, last month. The institute says more research is needed to determine the effect of the Supreme Court decision and of the growth in access to abortion pills. The Boston Globe reports that some people in states with abortion bans traveled a lot further than neighboring states to obtain abortions. Researchers say that in the months after Roe was overturned, the number of people from out of state seeking abortions in Massachusetts rose 37.5%, with many coming to the state from Texas. (Read more abortion stories.)

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