A recent survey discovered that the overall number of abortions performed in the United States increased slightly in the 12-month period following the implementation of state-wide bans on them at any stage of pregnancy.
The recent report by the Society of Family Planning, an organization that supports access to abortion, reveals a significant decrease in the number of abortions in states with strict bans. However, there has been an increase in other states, particularly those in close proximity to the banned states. The average monthly number of abortions from July 2022 to June 2023 was approximately 200 higher compared to the months of May and June 2022.
The changes reflect major shifts after the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022 handed down its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that had made abortion legal nationally. Since last year, most Republican-controlled states have enacted restrictions, while most Democrat-controlled states have extended protections for those from out of state seeking abortion.
According to Alison Norris, a co-chair of the WeCount study and a professor at The Ohio State University’s College of Public Health, the Dobbs decision had a significant impact on abortion access in the country. The increase in overall abortions in the past year demonstrates the positive effects of improved access to abortion and meeting previously unmet needs. However, Norris also pointed out that bans can make access more difficult and even impossible for certain individuals.
In the meantime, a pro-life organization rejoiced over the decrease of approximately 115,000 abortions in states with the strictest regulations. Tessa Longbons, a senior researcher at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, stated that WeCount’s report validates the effectiveness of pro-life laws in these states.
Laws prohibiting and limiting abortion have been frequently contested in court, resulting in several being temporarily suspended by judges. Currently, 14 states have laws in place that restrict abortion at all stages of pregnancy with only a few exceptions, and two additional states prohibit it after the detection of cardiac activity, which typically occurs around six weeks of gestation before many women are aware of their pregnancy.
Between July 2022 and June 2023, there was an increase of approximately 200 abortions per month across the country. These abortions were performed at clinics, hospitals, medical offices, and virtual clinics. However, this data does not include abortions that were obtained outside of the medical system, such as obtaining pills from a friend. Additionally, the data does not factor in seasonal variations, as abortions tend to occur more frequently in the spring.
Some states, such as Illinois, California, and New Mexico, have seen a significant rise in government control by Democratic parties. However, even states like Florida and North Carolina, where restrictions have been implemented following the Dobbs ruling, have experienced similar increases. In Florida, there is currently a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but a new law may reduce this to six weeks if approved by a judge. Similarly, North Carolina has put into effect a ban on abortions after 12 weeks since July. Despite these restrictions, these states still have more access to abortions compared to other states in the Southeast.
The experts cited various reasons for the increase in numbers, such as an increase in resources and support for women in states with abortion bans to travel to states where it is legal, a rise in the use of medication abortion through online clinics, an increase in availability for abortion in states where it is legal later in pregnancy, and a potential decrease in the social stigma surrounding terminating pregnancies.
The number of abortions has been increasing at a national level since 2017.