Dec 8, 2023 - Health

Out-of-state abortion patients in Minnesota spiked post-Dobbs decision

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/Axio

The share of out-of-state patients traveling to Minnesota for an abortion tripled between 2020 and 2023, a new analysis estimates.

Why it matters: The report, released Thursday by the Guttmacher Institute, is the latest indicator of how the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade is reshaping abortion access.

The big picture: 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, Axios' Maya Goldman writes.

What's happening: In Minnesota, the share of out-of-state abortion patients over the period analyzed increased from 9% in 2020 to 30% in 2023, per Guttmacher, a research organization that supports abortion rights.

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

Of note: That would represent a slight increase from 2022 when a state report found that about 27% of the 12,175 abortions performed in the state were for patients from outside Minnesota.

Driving the trend: Minnesota's status as a legal abortion state and proximity to states with bans has made it a destination for patients who can no longer access the procedure where they live.

  • Other reports have found that the overall number of abortions in the state is also on the rise.

Context: Abortion remained legal in Minnesota post-Dobbs under a 1995 Supreme Court ruling.

  • The DFL-majority Legislature added another layer of protection this session, codifying the right to the procedure at any point in pregnancy and rolling back several restrictions that had been on the books for years.
  • Lawmakers also passed a "shield law" meant to protect providers and patients from prosecution in states where abortion is illegal.

Between the lines: Abortion providers in Minnesota have already taken steps to meet increased demand post-Dobbs.

  • For Planned Parenthood, that included adding more in-person and telemedicine appointment slots and moving to a bigger facility in Mankato.

What they're saying: Ruth Richardson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, said the trend in Minnesota underscores how "more people are being forced to leave their communities to access abortion care."

  • "Your zip code shouldn't dictate your access to health care, but that is the current reality in the United States," she said in a statement.

The other side: Paul Stark, communications director for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, criticized DFL lawmakers for "saddling" the state with what he called "an extreme policy of unlimited abortion," a reference to the lack of gestational limits in the law passed earlier this year.

  • "Minnesota should be known for our lakes, our snow, our wonderful people β€” not for abortion tourism."

What we're watching: Some DFL lawmakers have expressed support for asking voters to add abortion rights to the state constitution.

  • Legislative leaders say discussions on whether β€” and when β€” to do so are ongoing.
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