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U.S. abortions increased after state bans took effect

By Jake Beardslee · October 25, 2023

In brief…

  • Total abortions in U.S. rose slightly after state bans implemented post-Dobbs
  • Declines to near zero in strict ban states, but increases in accessible states
  • Rise attributed to more resources, medication abortion, greater capacity, less stigma
  • National trend of increasing abortions since 2017 continues
While abortions plummeted in states with strict bans, the overall number of abortions in the U.S. increased slightly in the year after Dobbs as more women accessed services in states without restrictions.  Larissa Puro/Wikimedia

A new report from the Society of Family Planning reveals that the total number of abortions in the U.S. increased slightly in the 12 months after numerous states implemented bans on the procedure. According to the research, abortions rose by an average of 200 per month from July 2022 to June 2023 compared to May and June 2022, before the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court ruling overturned Roe v. Wade.

The findings reflect major shifts in abortion access, with numbers plummeting to nearly zero in states with the strictest bans but increasing in states without restrictions. “The Dobbs decision turned abortion access in this country upside down,” said Alison Norris, professor at Ohio State University and study co-chair in a statement. “The fact that abortions increased overall shows what happens when access is improved and previously unmet needs are met.”

However, Norris emphasized that bans make abortion impossible for many. Anti-abortion advocates celebrated the 115,000 decline in states with tight restrictions. “Pro-life protections in states are having a positive impact,” said Tessa Longbons of the Charlotte Lozier Institute in a statement.

Since Dobbs, Republican-led states largely enacted restrictions while Democratic-led states bolstered protections. The increases occurred in Illinois, California, New Mexico, Florida and North Carolina - a mix of liberal and conservative states. Factors included more resources to help women travel for abortions, increased medication abortions through online clinics, greater capacity in less-restricted states, and reduced stigma. Nationally, abortions have also risen since 2017.