Since the Supreme Court ruling, a growing network of nonprofit groups has raised money to help women seeking abortion with travel and logistical costs. The WeCount data suggests that, even with these efforts, many women who might have had abortions if they were available nearby did not obtain them in other states.
Melissa Fowler is the chief program officer at the National Abortion Federation, an association of independent abortion clinics. She said her members had opened new locations and expanded hours. The organization has hired a team of social workers and receptionists to help women arrange appointments and travel. But, she said, she was not surprised to see abortions declining. “With all this preparation, and all the resources that are available, we know there are still people who are being denied care,” she said.
Although the WeCount report did not document where interstate abortion travelers came from, the states with large increases were located near states that banned abortions. (Not all clinics gave this information to the group when they shared the number of abortions they had provided.) North Carolina, Kansas, Colorado and Illinois had the largest increases by percent. But some women did travel outside of their region: New York, which does not border any states that banned abortion, had a substantial increase.
Though clinics in states bordering those with bans have been struggling to see all the patients who come to them — some cannot schedule appointments because they are overbooked — many had been able to expand access before Roe fell, in preparation for the surge in demand.
Illinois had the biggest increase in the number of abortions: 2,710 more in July and August than in April and May. Clinics there had already been serving many patients from Missouri, where abortion was largely inaccessible before Roe. Two of them, Hope Clinic for Women and the Planned Parenthood in Fairview Heights, Ill., had prepared for the post-Roe surge by expanding their hours and clinic space, hiring more doctors and creating a hotline to help patients with travel logistics.
The data also shows a small increase in abortions provided through telemedicine providers who do not have brick-and-mortar clinics. These were made possible last December when the Food and Drug Administration legalized telemedicine abortions. These abortions are legally available in only some states, and accounted for 5 percent of all abortions in August, the new data shows.
Since August, several more abortion restrictions have gone into effect. It is unclear whether the number of legal abortions will continue to fall.