Dec 7, 2023 - Health

Out-of-state travel for abortion surged after Roe was overturned

Change in share of out-of-state abortion patients
Data: Guttmacher Institute; Note: Wisconsin included in states where abortion was banned in the first half of 2023. Data unavailable for D.C.; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios

More than twice as many people crossed state lines for abortion care in the first half of 2023 compared with a similar period in 2020 when abortion was legal nationwide, according to a new analysis.

Why it matters: The Guttmacher Institute data demonstrates how state bans that took effect since Roe v. Wade was overturned have forced patients to travel longer distances to obtain an abortion.

By the numbers: About 92,100 patients traveled out of state for abortion care in the first six months of 2023, while 40,600 patients did so in the first half of 2020, according to Guttmacher, a research organization that supports abortion rights.

  • 1 in 5 patients seeking abortion care traveled out of state earlier this year, up from 1 in 10 in 2020.

Where it stands: In South Carolina, the share of patients who traveled into the state to receive abortion services increased from 3% in the first half of 2020 to 42% in the first six months of 2023, the largest increase of any state.

  • But that trend won't continue: The state's Supreme Court in August upheld a six-week ban that had been blocked.
  • Illinois saw the largest increase in the amount of patients traveling to the state for abortion services, increasing from 13,300 to 18,870.
  • Illinois allows abortions up to fetal viability and has passed legislation strengthening abortion rights since Roe was overturned. The neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri all have total abortion bans.

Other states bordering those with strict abortion limits also saw big increases.

  • That includes Florida, which bans abortion after 15 weeks. Abortion rates have risen sharply there since Roe was overturned as nearby states enacted total or near-total bans.
  • There were 3,700 more out-of-state abortion patients in Florida in the first half of 2023 compared with the same period in 2020.
  • The Florida Supreme Court is weighing the legality of the state's 15-week ban. If the law is upheld, a six-week ban would take effect shortly afterward.
  • Such a ban would "drastically reduce abortion access for the entire Southeast," Guttmacher said in its analysis.

Go deeper: Abortions increased the year after Roe was overturned

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