Respect Accessibility

Legal abortions dropped 6 percent in months after Roe was overturned: research

In the wake of the Dobbs v Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court ruling, the total number of abortions in the country declined by 10,000.
Supreme Court

Story at a glance

  • The research reflects data collected from nearly 80 percent of all abortion providers in the United States.

  • Some states that reported increased rates are located next to those with severe restrictions or bans on the procedure.

  • Democrats hope the overturning of Roe v. Wade will lead to high voter turnout on Nov. 8. 

The number of legal abortions completed in the United States fell by 6 percent in the two months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, according to a new report from WeCount, an organization led by the Society of Family Planning (SFP).

The data come as the country gears up for the upcoming midterm elections, which many Democrats have sought to frame as a referendum on the legality of abortion. 

Roe v. Wade, the case that codified a woman’s federal right to an abortion, was overturned by the conservative-majority supreme court on June 24, 2022. Researchers estimated that in April 2022, before the decision, clinicians carried out a total of 85,020 abortions across the country. However, that total fell to 79,620 abortions in August 2022.

In the two months following the decision, nearly 11,000 fewer people had abortions, marking a decrease in the national abortion rate from 14 per 1,000 women of reproductive age in April to 13 per 1,000 women in August. 

Anti-abortion activists said the findings highlight that 10,000 babies will have a chance at life.

America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

Because rates of abortion were increasing prior to the overturning of Roe v. Wade — potentially due to economic forces or the COVID-19 pandemic — the net overall declines in abortion incidence in the U.S. after the overturning are even more striking, authors wrote. 

The June, Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization decision sent the abortion debate back to the state level. Trigger laws saw 13 states’ abortion bans go into effect immediately following the ruling, while others worked to codify the right into their state constitutions, meaning some seeking abortions may have had to travel out of state to safely undergo the procedure.

“Traveling for abortion care is associated with heavy burdens, including delays to care and increased cost, both financial and social; those who are unable to overcome these burdens are left to carry pregnancies to term,” the SFP report reads. 

SFP is a nonprofit organization that supports abortion rights. The research reflects data from nearly 80 percent of abortion providers in the U.S. 

In states that banned or severely restricted abortion in June 2022, there were 7,870 fewer abortions in July and 8,040 fewer in August, marking a 95 percent decline. Texas saw the largest decline, from 2,770 abortions carried out in April to around 10 in August. In September 2021, Texas implemented a ban on any abortion carried out after six weeks. 

States where the procedure remained legal with few restrictions saw an increase in the number of abortions provided following Dobbs, rising by 11 percent between April and August.

However, data only represent abortions performed in medical settings and those provided by virtual-only providers. They do not include any self-managed abortions or those carried out outside of the U.S. medical system. 

Of note, the researchers did see a 33 percent increase in abortions provided by virtual-only clinics throughout the four months studied. Total abortion rates also increased following the Dobbs draft leaked in May 2022 and prior to the decision being announced. 

North Carolina, Kansas, Colorado and Illinois saw the largest increases in women undergoing the procedure post-Dobbs, while states on the East and West coasts, where abortion remained legal with few restrictions, saw fewer major rate shifts. 

Abortion declines also tended to take place in states “with the greatest structural and social inequities in terms of maternal morbidity and mortality and poverty,” authors added, writing “The impact of the Dobbs decision is not equally distributed. People of color and people working to make ends meet have been impacted the most.” 

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.