The analysis, released Thursday, found at least 66 clinics had stopped offering abortion services as of Oct. 2, 100 days since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade and national abortion-access protection. They are located in 15 states, the bulk situated in the South.
Thirteen of the states – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia – have enacted near-total abortion bans since Dobbs, while providers in Wisconsin have suspended abortion services because of uncertainty about the enforceability of an 1849 ban. In Georgia, one clinic closed while 13 still offer abortion services during the first six weeks of pregnancy.
Nearly 22 million women of reproductive age (from 15 to 49), or just under 30% of the nation’s population in that category, live in those 15 states. These states accounted for 18% of the 930,000 abortions performed in the United States in 2020, according to Guttmacher, an organization that supports abortion rights and provides research, policy analysis and public education on a range of sexual and reproductive health issues.
“The new reality of clinics no longer offering abortions or closing down entirely is having a devastating impact on states with abortion bans – and far beyond,” the analysis said. “The loss of clinics is felt in all states – even those where abortion remains legal,” due to a large number of people from states with bans traveling for abortion procedures.
Demand for the procedure at a Planned Parenthood clinic in southern Illinois, where abortion remains legal, has “really just exploded” since the Supreme Court’s ruling, said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, which operates the facility just miles away from St. Louis and also has plans for a mobile clinic in Illinois.
Pregnant patients who used to get an appointment in two or three days now can wait up to three weeks, even with the clinic ramping up to 10-hour days six days a week. “Folks are coming from all over the country for this care,” she said, with the Illinois clinic experiencing a 435% increase in patients from beyond Illinois and Missouri between June and September.
National Right to Life, a leading anti-abortion advocacy group, supports the state bans and the resulting stoppage of abortions at clinics within their borders, president Carol Tobias told USA TODAY.
“Since we don’t think anybody should die, including unborn babies, we think that’s a good thing,” she said, while trying to persuade patients not to travel to other states for abortions. “I would strongly encourage any woman considering abortion to find help. … Several states are coming forward with programs to help, or they already have programs in place.”
With the bulk of affected clinics located in the South, it means longer and costlier trips for those thinking of traveling to states where abortion remains legal, said Rachel Jones, Guttmacher’s principal research scientist and the lead author of the analysis.
“When you look at a state like Louisiana, you’re not just crossing to the next state. You’re having to go multiple states over. There’s an incredible impact that these bans are having because they’re concentrated in certain parts of the country,” she said.
Of the 66 clinics, 40 are still providing other health care services. However, 26 have closed completely, including the three that were operating in Louisiana and the sole clinic in Mississippi, leaving low-income residents in those states, among the nation’s poorest, with fewer healthcare options, Jones said.
“This means people in these communities are not going to have access to contraceptive care, STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing and treatment and pregnancy care, which some of these facilities that closed completely were offering,” she said.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which describes itself as the political arm of the pro-life movement whose goal is ending abortion, said the existing and upcoming bans “are anticipated to protect as many as 200,000 unborn children annually.” The organization estimates that bans in effect, which it calls “life-saving laws,” are stopping nearly 140,000 abortions annually in 15 states, while another 60,000 could be prevented if laws take effect in seven other states.
“For the past 30 years, we have been seeking to make abortion unnecessary, unthinkable, not part of the American experience. Any life saved is a positive for us,” said Katie Glenn, the organization’s state policy director. “We celebrate that lawmakers and voters in these states have been pushing to let these laws take effect for a long time and we think it’s a really terrific thing that the Supreme Court got out of the way and sent this back to the people.”
Anti-abortion activists seem to be getting their way. The number of clinics that have stopped providing abortions has grown since a July Guttmacher analysis that found 43 clinics in 11 states had stopped providing abortions conducted one month after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Going forward, Jones said, the number of clinics that cease offering abortions is expected to grow, as Guttmacher projects 26 states are “certain or likely to ban abortion” within a year of Roe’s reversal. Strict bans in Indiana, Ohio and South Carolina, temporarily blocked by court action, could take effect once those cases are resolved.
“Unfortunately, I can’t imagine it’s going to do anything but keep getting bigger,” she said.