Sep 12, 2023 - News

NC is still a Southern abortion destination

Estimated change in the number of abortions provided by the formal health care system
Note: 2020 value is 50% of the abortion caseload for each state in that year; Data: Guttmacher Institute; Map: Axios Visuals

North Carolina remained the South's destination for abortions in the first six months of this year, as state lawmakers debated how far to go in restricting the procedure.

Why it matters: Patients are proving highly motivated to travel to get the care in the face of state bans, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, Axios' Adriel Bettelheim writes.

Driving the news: Nearly 25,000 women had an abortion between January and June — the sixth highest in the country — according to a new analysis from Guttmacher.

  • That's an increase of 57% from a six-month time frame in 2020, though much smaller than South Carolina's increase of 124%, as the state temporarily had looser restrictions than North Carolina.

Context: As of July, abortions here are now restricted after 12 weeks, with numerous exceptions.

  • Still, the state remains one of the region's least restrictive states for abortion.

The big picture: Abortion had been rising nationally before the Supreme Court struck down federal protection of the procedure, increasing 8% between 2017 and 2020. Guttmacher noted some data suggest that the increase continued into 2022.

  • The likelihood of more bans or restrictions on interstate travel will create larger regional clusters of states with bans and increase the likelihood that patients will have to cross multiple state lines to get care, Guttmacher said.

What we're watching: It remains unclear if North Carolina's abortion rate will change in the second half of this year, after the new law went into effect, or if it will remain a state that women across the South flock to for access to the procedure.

Go deeper: Abortions surged in states near those with new bans: study

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