In the year since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and overturned Roe v. Wade, 21 states have enacted laws that restrict or ban access to abortion care. A new report finds that despite numerous legal barriers to care, the number of abortions performed has increased nationwide.
The report by WeCount, a research project led by the Colorado-based Society of Family Planning, compared the number of abortions performed in April and May 2022, just before the ruling in Dobbs was handed down on June 24, with data from July 2022 to June 2023 and found that nationally, there were 2,200 more surgical and medication abortions during the 12 months.
“What actually happened during these 12 months is that abortion access plummeted to zero in some states, while increasing to meet the acute need in others, leading to a complete disruption in the health care system and people’s lives,” said Ushma Upadhyay, WeCount co-chair and a professor at the University of California-San Francisco, according to the Oregon Capital Chronicle.
“In the two months before Dobbs, the average monthly number of abortions provided by clinicians in the US was 82,115 while in the 12 months after Dobbs, the average monthly number of abortions was 82,298,” the report says. The greatest increase in average monthly abortions was in March 2023, with 10,565 more than before the Dobbs ruling.
In states with restrictive abortion laws, the number of abortions declined by a total of nearly 115,000. In the states that allow abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, the number of abortions increased to almost 117,000 in the 12 months post-Dobbs.
According to the report, abortion rates had been on the rise since 2017 and until the Dobbs decision, making the decline in abortions in restrictive states all the more striking.
“There have been 94,930 fewer clinician-provided abortions in the year since Dobbs,” the report says, particularly in Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, and Wisconsin.
“The fact that abortions increased overall in the past year shows what happens when abortion access is improved, and some previously unmet need for abortion is met,” Alison Norris, a WeCount co-chair, told the Hill.
Increases in the number of abortions performed in states where the procedure is legal were marked over past years. According to CNN, both Planned Parenthood Illinois and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains reported increased numbers of patients traveling from out of state to their clinics.
“This is a sign of increasing inequality of access. … Whether somebody who wants to access abortion can actually do so depends more than ever on where they live,” professor of economics at Middlebury College, Caitlin Myers, told CNN.