Abortion care travel soars as US top court ruling reshapes legal landscape

Many women are now facing challenge of expensive trips to access abortion care, with bans or restrictions imposed in conservative-leaning states

By Web Desk
October 01, 2023
Protesters raising placards in their hands in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington. Unsplash

American women are adapting to a changed reality in the wake of a pivotal Supreme Court decision, which in June 2022 overturned the long-standing Roe v. Wade ruling, guaranteeing women's constitutional right to abortion.

In this altered legal landscape, many women are now facing the challenge of arranging expensive trips to access abortion care, with bans or restrictions imposed in conservative-leaning states.

Recent data from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research group, suggests a noticeable uptick in abortion rates in states bordering those with restrictive abortion laws.

For instance, New Mexico, which shares borders with Texas and Oklahoma, two states with abortion bans, saw a staggering 220 percent increase in abortions in 2023 compared to 2020. Similarly, Illinois, adjacent to states like Indiana and Missouri with bans, reported a 69 percent rise, while Colorado, surrounded by conservative Wyoming, Utah, Kansas, and Nebraska, noted an 89 percent increase.

The National Abortion Federation corroborates these findings, indicating a surge in people seeking abortion care beyond their state borders. Requests for financial assistance for travel-related expenses have increased by 235 percent from July 2022 to May 2023 compared to the previous year.

When travel proves impossible, some women are turning to abortion pills. Requests for these pills from abroad have spiked since the overturn of Roe v. Wade. In response, several liberal states like New York and Massachusetts have enacted "shield laws" to protect healthcare professionals who dispense these pills from prosecution.

However, the necessity of travelling for abortion care comes with significant logistical and financial burdens. Women often must take time off work, arrange childcare, and bear the expenses of transportation and accommodation.

As Isaac Maddow-Zimet, a data scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, points out, multiple factors may contribute to the rise in abortion numbers, including pre-existing restrictions in states like Texas and increased access to abortion services in rural areas.

Nevertheless, the clear trend is that women in states with abortion bans or restrictions are increasingly crossing state lines in pursuit of reproductive choices, bearing both financial and emotional costs in this evolving legal landscape.