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How the number of abortions in each state has changed — in the places it was legal this year

HealthHow the number of abortions in each state has changed — in the places it was legal this year

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New research indicates that the number of abortions increased in the first half of 2023 in most states where they were legal this year.

Data collected by the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion access, gives the clearest picture to date of where people are seeking abortions in the U.S., more than a year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The increases were especially pronounced in places that implemented policies to preserve abortion rights  — such as Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois and Washington — as well as in states like Kansas and  New Mexico, which border states with abortion bans.

In New Mexico, the number of abortions from January to June more than tripled compared to the same period in 2020 — the last year for which the Guttmacher Institute has comparable data. That’s an indicator that people are crossing state lines to terminate pregnancies, said Isaac Maddow-Zimet, a data scientist at the Guttmacher Institute who helped conduct the research.

“The increase in a state like New Mexico is probably primarily driven by travel from bordering states like Texas. That’s something that we’ve certainly heard anecdotally in the past, and I think the scale of this change bears that out,” Maddow-Zimet said.

The numbers Maddow-Zimet’s team published are based on monthly estimates from a sample of abortion providers in each state and do not include self-managed abortions — medication abortions performed outside of clinics, doctor’s offices or telehealth settings.

According to the Guttmacher estimates, in Colorado — where abortion rights are guaranteed by state law — the number was up 89% in the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2020. 

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And in Illinois — which has enacted policies that protect abortion providers and patients who travel to receive abortions there — abortions were up 69%. An estimated 44,000 were performed in the first half of 2023, compared to more than 26,000 in the first half of 2020.

“It already was kind of a bastion of access in the region before, and I think it’s become even more so,” Maddow-Zimet said.

After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the Alamo Women’s Clinic closed its abortion clinic in San Antonio and opened locations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Carbondale, Illinois. Andrea Gallegos, the clinics’ executive administrator, said both locations were busy right away. She estimated that they each see 400 patients per month.

Most out-of-state patients at the New Mexico location are from Texas, she said, while the Illinois location serves patients who travel from a wider variety of places.

“We strategically decided to open in southern Illinois because of the proximity to so many states that would likely have bans,” Gallegos said. “It’s not unusual for us to have patients from nine different states in one day because of that.”

Michele Landeau, the chief operating officer at Hope Clinic, an abortion provider in southern Illinois, said more than 80% of the clinic’s patients come from states with abortion bans or restrictions. Around 15% or 20% have to travel 12 or more hours, she added.

“Our volume has increased exponentially,” Landeau said. “Unfortunately, we aren’t able to see every person that calls us.”

In 2020, more than 113,000 abortions were administered across the 13 states that have since enacted total abortion bans, as well as Wisconsin, where many health care providers are hesitant to offer abortions because of an 1849 law criminalizing the practice. That was nearly 12% of the national total that year, according to the Guttmacher Institute. 

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In the first few months of this year, just 14 abortions were reported in Texas.

Since June — the latest data included in the Guttmacher research — abortion bans or restrictions have also gone into effect in Indiana, North Carolina and South Carolina after having been held up in court. The effects of those policies are not reflected in the report. 

The Guttmacher researchers said they would need more data to determine how the number of abortions has changed on a national scale, including estimates of self-managed abortions. However, the number of abortions in the U.S. rose in 2019 and 2020, and state-level data suggests that the pattern continued in 2021.

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