Abortions Rose Slightly in U.S. After Roe v. Wade Fell

THURSDAY, Oct. 26, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Abortion numbers increased — not decreased — slightly in the year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized the procedure.

Some states immediately banned access and numbers of abortions fell to nearly zero in those with the strictest bans.

But they increased elsewhere, especially in states adjacent to those with bans, according to a report from the Society of Family Planning, which advocates for access to abortions.

From July 2022 through June 2023, monthly averages were almost 200 higher than in May and June 2022, the Associated Press reported. That was just before the high court's ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe. Nationwide numbers had been growing since about 2017.

“The Dobbs decision turned abortion access in this country upside down,” Dr. Alison Norris, a leader for the study, known as WeCount, and a professor of public health at Ohio State University, said in a statement.

“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,” Norris added.

Most Republican-controlled states have restricted access. This made it impossible for some people to access abortions, Norris said.

Most Democrat-controlled states have extended protections for people seeking abortions from out of state, the AP reported.

In states with the tightest restrictions, abortions dropped by nearly 115,000.

“WeCount’s report confirms pro-life protections in states are having a positive impact,” Tessa Longbons, a senior researcher for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion group, said in a statement.

The AP reported that 14 states now ban abortions throughout pregnancy, with limited exceptions. Two other states ban abortion after heart activity can be detected, usually around six weeks of gestational age and before many women realize they’re pregnant.

States with the largest increases in abortion include a few controlled by Democrats: Illinois, California and New Mexico, the survey found. But they also include Florida and North Carolina, which have restrictions in place, WeCount said.

In Florida, abortions are banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but that could be restricted to six weeks under a new law. A judge needs to rule on this.

North Carolina’s ban begins at 12 weeks.

Among the reasons numbers are rising include more funding and organization to help women travel from states with bans to those with legal access, the AP reported, along with more capacity in states where abortion is legal later in pregnancy.

Reasons also include an increase in medication abortion through online-only clinics, the AP reported.

The numbers don’t account for seasonal variation or for abortions obtained outside the medical system.

More information

The nonprofit KFF has more facts on abortion in the U.S.

SOURCES: Associated Press, Oct. 25, 2023; Society of Family Planning, WeCount survey, Oct. 24, 2023

Copyright ©2024 HealthDay. All rights reserved.