Who Could Have Predicted This? Over 170,000 People Traveled Out-of-State for Abortion in 2023

This new data comes as abortion funds say donations are dwindling, all as cost and need continue to rise exponentially.

Abortion
Who Could Have Predicted This? Over 170,000 People Traveled Out-of-State for Abortion in 2023

Over the course of 2023—the first full year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade—171,300 patients traveled out-of-state to receive clinical abortion care, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute.

More specifically, about one million in-clinic abortions took place from January 2023 through March 2024, with out-of-state abortion care accounting for over 15% of that—a figure that’s more than doubled since 2020. Even more specifically (and unsurprisingly), 35,000 of these traveling abortion patients came from Texas.

These numbers are staggering but square with what we’ve already seen since Roe fell and over a dozen states enacted sweeping abortion bans. In December, Guttmacher published a study that showed in the first half of 2023, one in five abortion patients had traveled out-of-state for abortion care. Throughout 2023, Illinois, California, and Florida (which imposed a near-total abortion ban in May, effectively ending abortion access across the entire South) saw the largest increases in out-of-state abortion patients. In June 2023 alone, Illinois—a beacon for abortion access in the Midwest—saw a 45.4% increase compared to April 2022. Also in June 2023, Florida saw a 48.2% increase compared to April 2022, while California saw an 11.2% increase from April 2022 to June 2023. Currently, 14 states have total or near-total abortion bans, per Guttmacher.

In a statement reflecting on the latest data, Guttmacher data scientist Isaac Maddow-Zimet noted that “traveling for abortion care requires individuals to overcome huge financial and logistical barriers,” which is “neither normal nor acceptable.” 

Last month, Jezebel reported that abortion funds—mutual aid groups that help people afford abortion care and, in some cases, any associated costs—are spending substantially more money post-Roe. In 2023, Texas’ Lilith Fund spent $1 million, the Baltimore Abortion Fund also spent $1 million, the Abortion Fund of Ohio spent about $1.5 million, New York Abortion Access Fund spent $1.7 million, and the DC Abortion Fund spent $2 million. Since Florida’s abortion ban took effect in May, the abortion fund Florida Access Network revealed last week that it’s “already funded 150 people” and is set to spend $150,000 post-ban by the end of July alone.

Also in May, Brigid Alliance—a group that provides comprehensive financial support for all travel and related costs for abortion, prioritizing those in need of later abortion care—shared data demonstrating how much demand has increased post-Roe. The organization went from supporting an average of 40 abortion-seeking clients per month in 2019 to serving 150 per month in 2023. Costs to support their clients also spiked: From 2021 to 2023, travel-related costs increased 16% from $836 to $993 per client, and in that same period, average lodging costs increased 29% from $242 to $345. 

The average distance that Brigid’s clients need to travel increased by 30% between 2022 and 2023, from 1,000 miles to 1,300, due to the spread of abortion bans. Brigid’s interim director, Serra Sippel, previously told Jezebel that the organization saw a “spike” in donations immediately after Roe fell. But many of those were one-time donations. “Spikes don’t sustain our work for the long-term,” Sippel said. “Anger donations have diminished and decreased at a time when the demand for services has only increased,” and thanks to ever-greater need for abortion-related, out-of-state travel, “the cost of services have only increased.”

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