Legal abortions most likely increased in the United States in the first six months of the year compared with 2020, an analysis of new estimates shows, as states with more permissive abortion laws absorbed patients traveling from those with bans and access to abortion pills via telemedicine continued to expand.
New research from the Guttmacher Institute offers the latest view of legal abortions since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision last year upended access to abortion nationwide and allowed more than a dozen states to ban or restrict the procedure.
The data suggests that thousands of women have crossed state lines to obtain an abortion, in the face of restrictions at home. It also indicates a rise in abortions among those living in states where the procedure is legal.
“You have two forces at work,” said Caitlin Myers, an economist at Middlebury College, who reviewed the Guttmacher report. “On the one hand, you have people trapped in ban states, and, on the other, you have people in a whole lot of the country where access has improved.”
Altogether, about 511,000 abortions were estimated to have occurred in areas where the procedure was legal in the first six months of 2023, a review of Guttmacher’s data shows, compared with about 465,000 abortions nationwide in a six-month period of 2020.
Abortions rose in nearly every state where the procedure remains legal, but the change was most visible in states bordering those with total abortion bans. Many of these states loosened abortion laws, and providers opened new clinics to serve patients coming from elsewhere. In Illinois, for example, where abortion is legal, abortions rose an estimated 69 percent in 2023 compared with the same period in 2020, to about 45,000 from 26,000.
Other states with restrictive neighbors, like Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and South Carolina, also had jumps in estimated counts of abortions.
Arizona, Georgia and Indiana, by contrast, sought to restrict abortion, and all three states had drops in their estimates. Arizona and Georgia have gestational limits on the procedure, and Indiana recently enacted a total ban.