Today, the Guttmacher Institute released findings from the latest round of its Monthly Abortion Provision Study. In addition to monthly estimates of the number of facility-based abortions as well as medication abortions provided via telehealth and virtual providers in each state from January through September 2023, the release includes the first comprehensive data measuring the magnitude of interstate travel for abortion after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision in June 2022. The latest study findings show that nearly one in five abortion patients traveled out of state to obtain abortion care in the first six months of 2023, compared with one in 10 abortion patients during a similar period in 2020.
“We knew that more people have been traveling across state lines for abortion since the end of Roe, but these findings are stunning nonetheless, and powerfully illustrate just how disruptive the overturning of Roe has been for tens of thousands of abortion patients,” says Isaac Maddow-Zimet, data scientist at Guttmacher and project lead. “Where people are traveling to get care is an important piece of the puzzle in untangling the post-Dobbs abortion landscape. We hope that this data can prove useful to providers, advocates and policymakers who have been working tirelessly to improve access to abortion in the face of unprecedented challenges.”
The study’s findings on increases in out-of-state travel align with post-Dobbs policy shifts: People traveling for abortion care are mainly going to states that border those with total abortion bans or early gestational bans. States that had the highest increases in the number of out-of-state abortion patients in the first half of 2023 include Florida, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico and North Carolina. Additional context and interpretation of these findings are available in an accompanying policy analysis and the number and proportion of out-of-state abortion patients for every state are available here.
“Policies that protect and expand access, such as those that permit any qualified health care provider—not just physicians—to offer abortion care or shield laws that protect providers from criminal investigation from hostile states, have been critical in helping states meet patients’ needs,” says Kelly Baden, vice president for public policy at Guttmacher. “We must also acknowledge the role that abortion funds and other support networks have played in helping people overcome the numerous financial and logistical barriers that traveling for abortion care entails. Their heroic efforts often make the difference in whether someone obtains an abortion or is forced to remain pregnant. However, nothing can substitute for sound public policy that recognizes abortion as a critical, necessary component of basic health care that everyone deserves, regardless of where they live.”
The December release of the Monthly Abortion Provision Study also includes the first data to capture the impact of South Carolina’s ban on abortions after six weeks’ gestation that went into effect on August 23. Abortions provided within the formal health care system decreased from 750 in August to 160 in September, representing a 79% decline. This finding is further discussed in the accompanying policy analysis.
About the Study
The Monthly Abortion Provision Study produces monthly estimates of the number of abortions provided within the formal health care system in the United States. These include abortions provided at brick-and-mortar health care facilities (such as clinics or doctor’s offices) as well as medication abortions provided via telehealth and virtual providers located in the United States. This study does not collect data on self-managed abortions, which we define as abortions occurring without in-person or virtual contact with the formal health care system.
The study’s estimates are generated by a statistical model that combines data from samples of providers with historical data on the caseload of every US provider. As more data are collected each month, estimates for past months become more precise. Each estimate is expressed as an uncertainty interval, which quantifies our confidence that the true value falls within a particular range.
The Monthly Abortion Provision Study interactive resource includes monthly data on the number of abortions by state for January–September 2023 and is designed to help measure the impact of abortion policies on state-level abortion incidence and trends. The interactive graphics also show the estimated number and proportion of out-of-state abortion patients for every state in January–June 2023, and change in the proportion of abortions provided in each state to patients traveling from out of state between 2020 (six-month period) and January–June 2023.
About the Guttmacher Institute
The Guttmacher Institute is a leading research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide. The Institute has a long history of tracking abortion incidence in the United States and globally. Every three years since 1974, the Guttmacher Institute has conducted the Abortion Provider Census of all known facilities providing abortion in the United States to collect information about service provision, including total number of abortions.
The Monthly Abortion Provision Study is supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, the Office of Research on Women’s Health, and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research of the National Institutes of Health, under award number R61HD112921. The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.