One hundred days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, nearly one third of U.S. women live in states where abortion is no longer legal or highly restricted. That’s almost 22 million women.
The stunning statistic is the result of a new analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion restrictions. Thanks to a flurry of lawsuits and court orders, the map of abortion access remains in constant flux. The Guttmacher Institute based its analysis on the availability of abortion on Oct. 2, the 100-day anniversary of Roe’s demise on June 24.
As of Oct. 2, 13 states had implemented total abortion bans, the Guttmacher Institute found. Legal uncertainty in Wisconsin has led abortion providers in the state to cease offering abortions out of fear that they could be prosecuted in the future. Georgia, meanwhile, has enacted a six-week abortion ban, outlawing the procedure before many people know they’re pregnant. All of these laws have some exceptions, such as in cases of rape or medical emergencies, but even people in those circumstances have found it deeply difficult to get abortions.
Before Roe’s overturning on June 24, there were 79 abortion clinics spread across those 15 states. Twenty-six of those clinics have shut down totally. As of early October, just 13 are still performing abortions, and all of them are in Georgia.
In other words, 14 states now have zero abortion providers. In 2020, nearly 126,000 abortions were performed in those states.
“A lot of those 126,000 people are not going to have the resources or abilities to go out of state to obtain care,” said Rachel Jones, the Guttmacher Institute’s principal research scientist. (The Guttmacher Institute analysis is based on census data, which is why it uses the term “women,” but people who are not women can get pregnant.)
“Most people are going to turn to the clinics that are closest to them, in bordering states [from] where abortion is banned, and they just don’t have the capacity to take on that increased caseload,” Jones continued. “We know anecdotally, from talking to providers, from media stories, that now it’s the case where even people who live in states where abortion is not banned are not able to get timely appointments because of the increased demand from people from banned states.”
Forty of the 79 clinics in the study are technically open and offering other kinds of services. But more providers could shut down in the coming months.
Abortion clinic network Whole Women’s Health has four Texas-based clinics, and founder Amy Hagstrom Miller is closing the abortion them the wake of the state’s abortion ban. Keeping them open just didn’t make financial sense, she told VICE News this summer.
“Not for lack of trying,” she said. “There’s no other medical provider that’s expected to stay open when they’re blocked from doing the care they’re trained to provide.”
Now, Whole Woman’s Health is in the process of trying to open up a clinic in New Mexico.
Ultimately, the Guttmacher Institute predicts that as many as 26 states will ban abortion. The next dominos to fall, Jones said, will likely be Ohio, Indiana, and South Carolina.
“Access to abortion is quickly eroding in the United States, probably even quicker than any of us anticipated that it would,” Jones said. “Abortion access, even prior to June 24, was difficult for people in a number of states. And it's now becoming even more inaccessible and impossible for a number of people.”
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