Abortion rights supporters gather at the Unitarian Church in Baton Rouge on June 24, 2022, after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Data show states with strict abortion laws like Louisiana have high infant and maternal morbidity rates. (JC Canicosa/Louisiana Illuminator)
A recent survey from the Guttmacher Institute documented an 8% rise in the number of abortions performed in the U.S. from 2017 to 2020, reversing what had been a nearly three-decade decline in women opting to terminate their pregnancies.
But a closer look at the findings, drawn from a comprehensive survey of every known facility providing abortions in the U.S., reveals wide variation in abortion trends among the states. While 33 states reported a rise in abortion numbers, 17 states reported declines. And the swings up or down are striking.
Among the states that saw the biggest increases: Oklahoma (+103%); Mississippi (+40%); Idaho (+31%); Kentucky (+28%); and New Mexico (+27%). Among the states with the biggest declines: Missouri (-96%); South Dakota (-74%); West Virginia (-31%); Wyoming (-29%); and Louisiana (-26%).
Notably, states such as California and New York, which have pushed to expand abortion funding and services in recent years, saw less dramatic gains of 16% and 5%, respectively.
Guttmacher, a research organization that supports abortion rights, noted that some of the state-level swings were interwoven, as women in states that have enacted laws restricting abortion access crossed into neighboring states to seek care.
This is thought to be a driving factor behind the 103% surge in Oklahoma, where women from Texas — a state with some of the nation’s strictest abortion laws — sought care before Oklahoma in May adopted its own ban on nearly all abortions.
The report’s authors cited other factors, as well, including state-level variations in access to government funding for abortion care for low-income women, and regulations issued by the Trump administration that disrupted the nation’s network of Title X family planning clinics, a vital source of low- or no-cost contraception. The Biden administration has since replaced those regulations.
The stark disparities in state abortion trends is expected to magnify in the coming year, following the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, eliminating the nation’s long-standing federally guaranteed right to abortion and leaving the issue in the hands of state lawmakers.
KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.