Aug 3, 2022 - Health

Number of patients traveling for abortion overwhelmingly increased post-Roe

Illustration of a red suitcase with a medical cross on the side

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

In the month after Roe v. Wade was overturned, the number of people traveling out-of-state for abortion care was sharply up as measured by a hotline that helps patients make hotel and airline bookings.

Driving the news: President Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to support patients who leave their home states to access abortion.

By the numbers: From June 24 — when the Supreme Court overturned Roe — to July 25, the National Abortion Federation's hotline paid for 76 hotel rooms for patients traveling to access abortion, compared to five during the same period in 2021.

  • The hotline booked 52 trips by plane or bus post-Roe, compared to only one in 2021.

State of play: This year, the NAF has funded over 70,000 abortion procedures through July 25, compared to 63,000 in the same period last year.

  • The number is likely to increase as more states ban or restrict abortion access.
  • So far, 16 states have passed or enacted laws to ban access, with as many as 26 Republican-led states expected to take restrictive action against abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.

Zoom in: While there is currently no state law in place prohibiting interstate travel for abortion, blue states have enacted protections in anticipation that red states will enact laws prohibiting their residents to go elsewhere for abortion care.

What they're saying: "More people are being forced to travel now than ever before. While it’s great that we’ve been able to help a large number of people travel to states where abortion care is permitted, the reality is that these trips can be incredibly challenging," said NAF Chief Operating Officer Veronica Jones.

  • "The truth is, abortion bans are intended to make accessing care burdensome, and even with financial assistance, some people will still be denied the abortion care they need."

Between the lines: Nonprofits have been preparing for increases in people seeking financial help to access abortion. However, some worry that they may not be able to meet the demand.

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