May 6, 2024 - News

Out-of-state abortion patients flock to Virginia after Florida's 6-week ban

Choropleth map showing that 16 states ban abortion at six weeks or earlier and nine states ban abortion at 12 to 22 weeks. 18 states allow abortion up until 24 weeks or later and eight states have no gestational limit on abortion.
Data: KFF, Guttmacher Institute, Axios research; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios Visuals

Florida's six-week abortion ban, which went into effect on Wednesday, has Virginia's abortion providers bracing for more out-of-state patients.

Why it matters: Virginia is the only state in the South without a post-Roe abortion ban or a waiting period, making an increase all but inevitable.

State of play: After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June 2022, Virginia's abortion rate went up because it was one of the few access points for people in nearby states with strict bans.

  • Since the fall of Roe, Virginia has been in the top 10 nationwide to see the greatest percentage increase in out-of-state abortion patients since 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
  • The percentage of out-of-state people seeking abortions from the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood in 2022 was 3%, per CEO Paulette McElwain. By April, it was 20%.
  • Last week, it jumped to 30%.

Now, Florida's abortion ban is prompting the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood to beef up staffing in its Richmond, Hampton and Virginia Beach clinics, reports WHRO.

Yes, but: Florida performed over 84,000 abortions last year, and Virginia's system "just doesn't have the capacity" to absorb that, McElwain told WHRO.

  • And the state's providers were struggling to meet the demand even before the fall of Roe, especially with hundreds of people from Texas seeking abortions, wrote the Virginian-Pilot.

Zoom out: People driving the longest distances to get an abortion are more likely to have lower incomes, be Black or Hispanic or come from a Republican congressional district, reports Axios' April Rubin.

  • The closest abortion clinics for Floridians are in North Carolina, which allows the procedure up to 12 weeks of pregnancy but requires a 72-hour wait requirement.
  • Virginia removed its 24-hour waiting period in 2020, making it the next closest stop.

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