What you need to know: Data, analysis and more from Guttmacher experts
On December 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case about a blatantly unconstitutional Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This case is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed the constitutional right to abortion.
In the almost 50 years since Roe, anti-abortion politicians have waged incremental attacks against abortion access. With this Mississippi case, they are now demanding outright that the Supreme Court ignore established legal precedent and completely overturn Roe. By agreeing to hear the case, the Supreme Court has signaled its potential willingness to overturn decades of its own decisions upholding abortion rights. In a separate development, the Supreme Court allowed a Texas law banning abortion at six weeks to go into effect in direct violation of Roe.
This page presents new Guttmacher evidence on who would be impacted if the Supreme Court chips away at or entirely overturns Roe. It also includes information on the legal landscape for abortion across the United States, as well as policy analysis and key research.
State Policy Trends 2021: The Worst Year for Abortion Rights in Almost Half a Century
Conservative-led state legislatures enacted a record 108 abortion restrictions in 19 states in 2021. These legislatures also focused on passing measures that restrict voting access and enacting discriminatory policies against LGBTQ individuals, especially transgender youth. At the same time, some state legislatures expanded access to reproductive health services. More than half of the states increased access to pregnancy and postpartum care; many of these new provisions were designed to reduce racial disparities in maternal mortality. Several states now allow pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives or medication that helps prevent HIV. And a few states expanded access to abortion services, primarily by repealing restrictions.
Read the analysis (January 2022)
Why This Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Matters So Much: Reflections from Guttmacher Experts
Since Roe v. Wade was decided by the US Supreme Court in 1973, the right to an abortion has been increasingly hollowed out, making it a right on paper only for far too many people. However, while Roe alone is far from enough, it is still a crucial safeguard and the foundation on which to build a future where all people can get the care they need, want and deserve. Our experts reflect on what this anniversary means to them.
Read the resource (January 2022)
Texas Abortion Ban Foreshadows the Potential Fate of Half the Nation
In a new op-ed, Herminia Palacio of the Guttmacher Institute and Jamila Perritt of Physicians for Reproductive Health detail the barriers for Texans seeking an abortion in the wake of the state’s ban at six weeks of pregnancy. The dire situation in Texas offers a glimpse of what could be in store for nearly half of the nation, as the US Supreme Court hears a case about Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that challenges Roe v. Wade. Depending on how the Supreme Court rules, millions of people could lose the right to get an abortion in their home state.
Read the op-ed (November 2021)
Resources for Journalists: 15 Things to Consider When Covering Abortion, the Supreme Court and a Potential “Post-Roe World”
The US abortion policy landscape is undergoing major shifts. Here are 15 key ideas for journalists, whether new or experienced with the topic, to consider as they write about the future of abortion rights in the country.
Read the resource (November 2021)
New Evidence: Texas Residents Have Obtained Abortions in at Least 12 States That Do Not Border Texas
Guttmacher researchers have new survey data showing the immediate and far-reaching impact of Texas’ ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy (S.B. 8). Excluding the four states that border Texas, 11 states and the District of Columbia had an increase in the number of abortions provided to Texas residents. These included states that are hundreds, and even thousands, of miles from the Texas border, such as Illinois, Washington, Ohio and Maryland.
Read the analysis (November 2021)
26 States Are Certain or Likely to Ban Abortion Without Roe
If Roe v. Wade were overturned or fundamentally weakened, 21 states have laws or constitutional amendments already in place that would make them certain to attempt to ban abortion as quickly as possible. An additional five states have political composition, history and other indicators—such as recent actions to limit access to abortion—that show they are likely to ban abortion as soon as possible without federal protections. This analysis details which states are in each category and the types of restrictions they have passed.
Read the analysis (October 2021)
For the First Time Ever, U.S. States Enacted More Than 100 Abortion Restrictions in a Single Year
Through early October 2021, states have enacted 106 abortion restrictions. This is the highest number of restrictions passed since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, and this year is also the first time that Guttmacher’s count of enacted restrictions has hit triple digits. Earlier this year, the number of state abortion restrictions had already surpassed the previous record of 89 restrictions set in 2011.
Read the analysis (October 2021)
Amicus Brief by the American Public Health Association, Guttmacher Institute and others
Signed by almost 500 individual scholars and public health professionals, the American Public Health Association, the Guttmacher Institute and the Center for U.S. Policy. The brief demonstrates that abortion is an essential component of reproductive health care, explains the far-reaching public health consequences of previability abortion bans and shows how abortion bans would disproportionately affect marginalized populations.
Read the amicus brief (September 2021)
Amicus Brief by Social Science Experts
Signed by more than 100 social scientists with extensive experience conducting and publishing peer-reviewed research about the safety, incidence and health impacts of abortion. The brief demonstrates that abortion is a common and safe medical procedure, explains why Mississippi’s abortion ban would increase risks to pregnant people’s health and safety, and documents why the ban would disproportionately impact marginalized populations. The brief further details how denying access to abortion has negative socioeconomic consequences.
Read the amicus brief (September 2021)
Mississippi Is Attacking Roe v. Wade Head On—the Consequences Could Be Severe
In this report, Guttmacher experts estimate how many people nationwide obtain abortions at or after 15 weeks of pregnancy and calculate driving distances for Mississippi residents seeking an abortion under further restrictions. The analysis describes how distances to reach an abortion clinic would dramatically increase, along with the burdens on those seeking abortion care, if the state’s 15-week abortion ban is upheld or if Roe v. Wade is fundamentally weakened.
Read the report (August 2021)
State Policy Trends at Midyear 2021: Already the Worst Legislative Year Ever for U.S. Abortion Rights
By July, 2021 had set the record for the worst year for abortion rights at the state level. In this analysis, our experts tally 90 restrictions enacted in the first six months of this year, detail the onslaught of attacks on transgender health and rights, and spotlight states that have been proactive in safeguarding abortion access and improving maternal health.
Read the analysis (July 2021)
Abortion Is at the Supreme Court Again. It's Different This Time
In this Scientific American op-ed, Guttmacher state policy expert Elizabeth Nash details what’s at stake when the U.S. Supreme Court hears a case on Mississippi’s unconstitutional 15-week abortion ban.
Read the op-ed (June 2021)
Abortion Service Delivery in Clinics by State Policy Climate in 2017
This study explores several aspects of abortion care, including cost, gestational parameters and types of other services that clinics offer. The researchers found that most abortion facilities provide a range of other health care services, but the number of clinics offering these services was higher in states with policies supportive of abortion.
Read the study (October 2020)
Gestational Age Bans: Harmful at Any Stage of Pregnancy
Gestational age bans are a favored tactic of antiabortion activists and politicians as they seek to undermine and ultimately overturn the constitutional right to abortion. This analysis outlines how these policies are harmful by placing an arbitrary deadline on abortion care with no consideration for the health, circumstances or well-being of those seeking abortion.
Read the analysis (January 2020)
Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2017
Guttmacher’s most recent data on abortion in the United States found that abortion reached its lowest rate nationally since Roe v. Wade, continuing a trend of long-term decline. The report also documented changes in the number and location of abortion providers, with an increase in the Northeast and the West and decrease in the Midwest and the South.
Read the report (September 2019)
Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients in 2014 and Changes Since 2008
This report lays out the sociodemographic characteristics of U.S. abortion patients, including age-group, relationship status, race and ethnicity, nativity, education level, prior births, income level, religion, sexual orientation and insurance coverage.
Read the report (May 2016)