After a crucial Supreme Court decision in June 2022, the United States now finds itself in a new environment for reproductive healthcare.
The long-standing Roe v. Wade decision was overturned by the judgment, profoundly changing how American women obtain abortion treatment. The effects are starting to show themselves more clearly a year after this significant change.
Many American women are now forced to make expensive travel arrangements to areas where abortions are still permitted. States that lean conservative have enacted severe abortion bans and restrictions in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Liberal states have taken action to protect women's reproductive rights in the meantime.
Due to the fragmented nature of data collection and the fact that abortion services are offered by a variety of medical institutions and organizations, it is difficult to gather comprehensive national statistics on abortion in the US. However, a recent study by the Guttmacher Institute, a well-known organization that does research and advocates for reproductive health, has illuminated new patterns.
According to the Guttmacher report, abortion rates have significantly increased in states that are close to those with strict abortion restrictions. For instance, New Mexico recorded a startling 220 percent rise in abortions in 2023 compared to 2020, despite sharing borders with Texas and Oklahoma, both of which have abortion restrictions.
Similar to Missouri and Indiana, states with tight laws, Illinois witnessed a 69 percent increase. Colorado recorded an 89 percent rise in abortion rates despite being bordered by staunchly pro-life states like Wyoming, Utah, Kansas, and Nebraska.
This pattern has been recognized by the National Abortion Federation, which has seen a marked increase in the number of people seeking abortion treatment outside of their home states. In comparison to the prior year, financial aid requests for travel-related costs increased by 235 percent between July 2022 and May 2023.
Some women are turning to abortion drugs when traveling is not an option. Since the Roe v. Wade ruling was reversed, there has been an increase in demand for these drugs imported from outside.
Many liberal states, like New York and Massachusetts, have passed "shield laws" to insulate medical practitioners who give abortion drugs from punishment in order to meet this expanding need.
However, women face significant logistical and financial challenges when they have to travel for abortion services. These responsibilities include scheduling time off from work, making childcare arrangements, and paying for travel and lodging costs.
Numerous variables might be to blame for the rise in abortion rates, according to data scientist Isaac Maddow-Zimet of the Guttmacher Institute.
These variables include anything from current limitations in some states to easier access to abortion care in rural places.
Despite this, a distinct pattern is beginning to emerge: women in states with abortion prohibitions or limitations are increasingly traveling across state borders to exercise their right to contraception, incurring both financial and emotional consequences in this changing legal environment.