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One in five patients travel to other states for abortion care, according to new data

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(NEW YORK) — The number of patients in the U.S. traveling out of state to obtain abortion care has doubled since 2020. Nearly one in five patients in the first half of 2023 traveled to other states for abortion care, compared to one in 10 patients traveling out of state in 2020, according to new research from the Guttmacher Institute.

According to data gathered by Guttmacher, the number of people who traveled over state lines to access abortion care more than doubled in the first six months of 2023 — 92,100 patients traveled across state lines for abortion care, compared with 40,600 people who traveled in the first half of 2020.

Those people are mainly traveling to states that border states where bans have ceased nearly all abortion services, according to Guttmacher.

The Guttmacher Institute says this surge in travel is largely driven by abortion bans going into effect since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, overturning federal protections for abortion rights.

The state with the largest increase in the number of patients traveling from out of state for abortion care was Illinois, according to Guttmacher.

“Illinois is bordered by three states that ban abortion as well as the restrictive states of Iowa and Wisconsin — in 2020, 21% of the abortions that occurred in Illinois were to people coming from out of state, this increased to 42% in the first six months of 2023,” Rachel Jones, a principal research scientist at Guttmacher, told ABC News.

Illinois borders Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri. It also borders Wisconsin, which had ceased nearly all abortion services until a court decision last month issued a ruling that an 1849 law did not apply to abortion, but only applied to the termination of a pregnancy without the mother’s consent.

Two Planned Parenthood locations in Wisconsin have since resumed abortions.

At least 16 states have ceased nearly all abortion services since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

New Mexico also saw an increase in the number of patients who traveled across state lines for abortion care, with the state bordering Texas and Oklahoma, where nearly all abortions have ceased, according to the data.

Additionally, an estimated 8,230 patients from out of state received abortion care in New Mexico, data showed.

Despite an abortion ban being in place in Florida, the state still saw an uptick in the number of abortions that took place. According to data gathered by Guttmacher, an estimated 5,780 patients traveled to Florida for abortion care.

Florida has a 15-week abortion ban in place and a 6-week abortion ban that could go into effect if the 15-week ban is upheld by the state Supreme Court.

The data also showed the impact of bans going into effect.

“In South Carolina, the number of abortions provided in the formal health care system decreased by 79%—from 750 in August 2023 to 160 just one month later—after the state started enforcing a ban on abortions after six weeks gestation on August 23, 2023,” a Guttmacher policy analysis said.

But what the study doesn’t cover is what happened to patients who were unable to travel across state lines for care.

“We’re documenting an increase in abortion in states bordering those where abortion is banned, which demonstrates that there are lots of people — tens of thousands of people — have been able to travel to another state to get care. We know that there are thousands of people, maybe tens of thousands of people, who aren’t able to do that, who don’t have the resources or the logistical support to do that,” Jones said.

“And that’s what this study doesn’t tell us —who’s not able to overcome these barriers,” Jones said.

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