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Post 'Dobbs' Supreme Court case, more people are traveling to get an abortion


Abortion has been banned in more than a dozen states for over a year. Researchers have tried to understand whether those restrictions led to fewer abortions. As NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin reports, a new study came to a surprising conclusion.

SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN, BYLINE: Despite all the bans, the number of abortions over the past year has actually increased. There were 2,200 more abortions across the country, according to The Society of Family Planning's WeCount project. Ushma Upadhyay is a co-chair and a professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

USHMA UPADHYAY: It's not a huge number relative to the total number of abortions, but we do note that it is an increase when we were expecting a decline.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: To put that 2,200 number in context, the total number of abortions researchers documented was over a million. WeCount's new report contains a table showing each state's monthly number. And it's clear, as abortions zeroed out in states including Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri, the number shot up in other states, including Illinois, North Carolina and New Mexico.

UPADHYAY: Many of these what we call surge states border states with abortion bans and serve as access points for people who travel from other states to get care.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Upadhyay emphasizes the shift of abortions from one state's column to another isn't simple or easy. Behind those numbers are people calling clinics in a rush, lining up funds and child care and traveling sometimes thousands of miles. Megan Jeyifo of the Chicago Abortion Fund added that the increase also obscures how hard funds like hers are working to help people move around the country.

MEGAN JEYIFO: While I think we're grateful that more people have been able to access their abortion than we thought, what we're doing is not sustainable for anyone.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: One thing not captured in these numbers are self-managed abortions - when people order abortion medication through the mail, for instance, and take the pills at home.

Selena Simmons-Duffin, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Selena Simmons-Duffin reports on health policy for NPR.