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New study suggests many are crossing state lines for abortion access

An empty, snow-covered highway stretches for miles into the horizon. The landscape is mostly barren, just a few snow-covered hills on either side.
TOM GRUNDY / Adobe Stock

A new study provides a detailed look at the number of abortions being performed in all 50 states before and after Roe v. Wade was overturned — providing strong evidence to suggest that many pregnant women are crossing state lines to seek abortion care.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 2022 Dobbs decision, the Society for Family Planning has been closely monitoring abortion access across the country. Nationwide, the group noted a sizable average monthly drop of nearly 5,400 abortions, heavily concentrated in states — like Idaho — that enacted bans.

But as abortions plummeted in Idaho, they rose in neighboring Washington and Oregon, an average monthly rise of 138 and 132, respectively. The study’s authors say their data suggests that many seeking abortions are traveling to less restrictive neighboring states.

“It’s helping us see the scale,” said University of California-San Francisco professor Katrina Kimport, who studies those forced to seek abortion care far from where they live.

She noted that for years before the Dobbs decision, many women already had to travel because of restrictions or a lack of providers in their home states — like in Wyoming, where there had long been only one provider before a second clinic opened this month in Casper.

“I think what we see that’s new here, what we have evidence of, is just how many people are now having to have these experiences,” added Kimport, who was not involved in the SFP study.

Such travel can be quite costly and logistically complicated, requiring time off work and other arrangements, like childcare, she said. Some of Kimport’s recent work also shows that travel for an abortion can have significant emotional costs.

Elsewhere in the West, the study notes that Colorado saw one of the country’s largest increases in the number of abortions — about 430 per month — while Arizona saw one of the most significant declines — 775 per month.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

Murphy Woodhouse