One out of every five patients travels out-of-state for abortion care

Posted at 2:56 PM, Jan 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-26 15:56:16-05

DENVER — One in five patients who seek an abortion are now traveling outside of their home state to receive care, according to a report out from the Guttmacher Institute.

“This is compared to the number prior to the Dobbs decision, which was about one in 10 patients, so a huge increase,” said Kimya Forouzan, the principal state policy associate for the Guttmacher Institute.

After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, states were largely left to come up with their own abortion policies. In the years since, some have chosen to crack down on abortion access while others have worked to protect it.

According to the data collected by the Guttmacher Institute, the number of people who crossed state lines nationwide for an abortion jumped to 92,100 in the first six months of 2023 compared with 40,600 in half of 2020.

“The access has become regional in a sense,” Forouzan said.

Illinois saw the biggest jump in out of state patients seeking abortion care, spiking from 21% of the total makeup of patients in the first half of 2020 to 42% in the first six months of 2023.

New Mexico, Colorado, Ohio and Florida also saw a lot of patients coming from out of state.

Currently, Florida has an abortion ban after 15 weeks. Those seeking an abortion in the state also have additional hurdles to go through, like mandatory counseling and a 24-hour waiting period. Nevertheless, the state is less restrictive than some of its neighbors like Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, so it has seen an increase in patients seeking care.

The overall number in patients coming from out of state jumped from 3,700 in the first half of 2020 to 5,780 in the first six months of 2023.

“Given where Florida is located and the states that it borders, it is kind of in comparison the state in the area that provides the greatest level of access for a lot of people,” Forouzan said.

The state’s Supreme Court is currently considering whether a six-week ban can go into effect, which would significantly lower the number of people being able to access abortion in the state.

A separate analysis by the Guttmacher Institute also estimates that overall demand for abortions has actually increased from 2020, despite state restrictions.

For abortion providers in the states where access is not restricted, that increase in demand has put a drain on their resources.

“It's been amazing and frightening and quite the roller coaster, I would say,” said Dr. Savita Ginde from the Boulder Valley Health Center in Colorado.

Ginde says her clinic started receiving phone calls from patients within minutes of the Supreme Court’s decision since some states had laws that immediately went into effect, and she says the demand has not let up.

“There was a little bit of a scramble in the beginning from patients, from clinics, from staffing,” she said.

Now, she estimates that about half of her patients are coming in from out of state.

The clinic has brought on staff and added days to its schedule for appointments. It's also getting ready to expand its building and it's even added a concierge service for patients traveling from out of state.

“We sit down with each one over the phone and make sure that all those logistics are not left to them, that we actually help them and steward them through that process to make sure that they can get here,” she said.

Overall, Colorado has seen a nearly 20% increase in patients crossing its border for care.

The center has gotten support from donors and says it’s committed to helping every patient no matter where they come from.