(Bloomberg) -- Some 92,100 people in the US traveled out of state to receive abortions in the first half of 2023, according to new data — more than double compared with three years ago.
The data, from research group Guttmacher Institute, shows the ways in which Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year, in addition to earlier state-based restrictions, created new hurdles in obtaining an abortion. It also shows that while traveling out of state for care can be time-consuming and expensive, many people are finding ways to do it.
Between January and June 2020, some 40,600 people traveled out of their home state to receive care, largely due to already-restrictive policies like waiting periods that mandate a certain amount of time between a patient's first consultation and their abortion. This year, near-total bans were the main reason behind people seeking care out of state, the report showed.
States that border those with abortion bans or restrictions saw the highest jump in out-of-state patients. Practitioners in Illinois, where abortion access is protected, saw 18,870 out-of-state patients between January and June 2023. That’s more than triple the number of out-of-state patients they saw in the same time period in 2020. Illinois shares borders with Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri, three states where abortion is banned.
“We've always had patients coming to see us from Missouri because we're right across the Missouri border,” said Julie Burkhart, the co-owner of Hope Clinic, an abortion provider in Illinois. “But we really began to see many more of our patients coming from as far away as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and all the way over to the Eastern seaboard.”
The average cost of traveling for an abortion was just over $1,000 in the first half of 2022, before the Dobbs decision came down. That number has since risen by 41%, according to a June estimate by the Brigid Alliance, a nonprofit that provides logistical support to people seeking care. Additional costs can include everything from gas money to hotels, child care and lost earnings from taking time off work. “It is not cheap to get an abortion itself,” said Isaac Maddow-Zimet, a data scientist with Guttmacher. “When you add travel on top of that, that can be a really significant financial cost,” he said.
The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was handed down in June 2022, left abortion laws up to the states. Currently, 14 states have near-total bans on abortion, and seven others have laws that heavily restrict abortion. Guttmacher compared 2023 numbers to 2020 in part to include the impact of state-level bans that predated the Dobbs decision, including Texas's SB8 law.
But while more people are traveling out of state for abortions, there are others who aren’t able to access them at all. A report from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Middlebury College released in November found that births rose an average of 2.3% in states with prohibitions on abortion compared with those where the procedure remained available.
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