In the year after the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion, something unexpected happened: The total number of legal abortions in the United States did not fall. Instead, it appeared to increase slightly, by about 0.2%, according to the first full-year count of abortions provided nationwide.
This finding came despite the fact that 14 states banned all abortions, and seven imposed new limits on them. Even as those restrictions reduced the legal abortion rate to near zero in some states, there were large increases in places where abortions remained legal. Researchers said they were driven by the expansion of telemedicine for mail-order abortion pills, increased options and assistance for women who traveled, and a surge of publicity about ways to get abortions.
The response by abortion providers and activists to the end of Roe v. Wade, it seems, has resulted in more access to abortion in states where it’s still legal — not just for women traveling from states with bans but also for women living there.
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Still, new bans and restrictions have had far-reaching effects. Many women, especially in the South, have turned to methods outside the U.S. medical system or carried their pregnancies to term, researchers said. These women are likely to be poor, teenagers or immigrants, and to have young children or jobs that don’t give them time off.
“I always think that should be the focal point to the story: The loss of access is profound and enormous,” said Alison Norris, a professor at Ohio State and a chair of WeCount, which gathered the data. “But it’s also a story of what happens when health systems increase access. Underlying unmet need for abortion may be being met now because of changes post-Dobbs.”
John Seago, the president of