At least 66 clinics in 15 states have stopped providing abortions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. according to a new analysis from the Guttmacher Institutean abortion rights research organization.
The analysis, released Thursday, found that 26 abortion clinics were completely closed and 40 others remained open but stopped providing abortion services until Oct. 2, marking 100 days since the Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that no constitutional right to abortion, leaving the issue of abortion rights to the states.
The findings predict that “inequality is likely to worsen as clinic-based abortion care disappears in many states, many of them clustered in regions like the South,” said one of the authors of the analysis, Rachel Jones, a principal investigator at the Guttmacher Institute.
14 States Don’t Have Legal Abortion Providers
Researchers focused on 15 states that imposed total or six-week abortion bans on Oct. The analysis shows that those states had a total of 79 clinics performing abortions before the Dobbs decision, compared to 13 today.
All of the remaining open clinics are in Georgia, where a law prohibits abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat is present.” An ultrasound can detect electrical activity in the cells of an embryo, which can eventually become a heart, as early as six weeks before many pregnancies are detected. The law includes exceptions for rape and incest if reported to the police, and allows subsequent abortions when a woman’s life is in danger or a fetus is not viable.
The shutdowns left 14 states without legal abortion providers, according to the analysis, which adds that those states accounted for more than 125,700 abortions in 2020.
Most of the closures were in Texas, where at least a dozen clinics closed, the Guttmacher analysis says. Texas has both a pre-Roe ban and a six-week ban, with one exception for the woman’s life.
At least three clinics in Louisiana closed; two clinics each closed in Tennessee and Oklahoma; and one clinic each closed in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky and Mississippi, Guttmacher found. All of those states have a total ban on abortion, with the exception of Georgia, which has a six-week ban.
“If clinics close or stop providing abortion care, that’s a lost source of health care for their community,” Jones said.
Some remain open for (other) business
In addition to the more than two dozen clinics that have closed completely after Dobbs, 40 others remain open but will no longer be able to provide abortion services, the analysis said.
Although Guttmacher researchers have not surveyed the clinics about the other services they provide, they may provide birth control or help people access abortion in other states, according to the organization.
Planned Parenthood also offers STD testing, pregnancy testing, transgender hormone therapy, and primary care. according to his website.
Texas has the most former abortion clinics — 11 — that remain open for other services, according to Guttmacher.
All clinics that have ever performed abortions in West Virginia, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Missouri — seven in all — have remained open to provide other services, according to the analysis.
The 15 states Guttmacher analyzed are home to nearly 22 million women of childbearing age, or about a third of that demographic’s national population, according to the organization’s analysis of census data. The numbers don’t include a untold number of transgender, non-binary and gender-fluid people who may not identify as women but can conceive and have abortions, the organization notes.
Guttmacher researchers conducted the analysis by building on their previous research that: interrogated more than 1,600 health care facilities across the country that performed abortions in 2019 or 2020 analyzed those findings alongside state abortion bans that went into effect after Dobbs and conducted additional research to find out whether clinics remained open and what services they provided.
‘We are in a very chaotic legal situation’
Experts not involved in the Guttmacher study said the findings reveal the magnitude of the impact of the Dobbs decision and the vastness of the population affected.
Carole Joffe, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-author of “Obstacle Course: The Daily Struggle to Get an Abortion in AmericaThe findings “confirm the extraordinary difficulties women and others face” in accessing abortion, she said.
Ushma Upadhyay, who also works at the University of California, San Francisco, as an associate professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, said that “distance barriers force people to self-regulate or carry out unwanted pregnancies,” adding that such barriers most affect pregnant people of color, who are also most at risk for complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
Significant distance from abortion providers imposes special burdens on low-income women seeking abortions, including travel and childcare costs, according to Upadhyay’s 2018 Research about the barriers pregnant people face when living more than 100 miles from an abortion provider.
Joffe pointed to data from the Turnaway Study, a historic long-term study led by her UCSF colleague Diana Greene Foster, which found that people who didn’t want abortions were nearly four times more likely to fall below the federal poverty level than those who wanted abortions. and that people who couldn’t have an abortion were more likely to keep in touch with abusive partners and conflict to bond with their children.
For people in abortion-banned states who can afford to travel to states where abortion remains legal, the situation remains bleak, said Jones, the Guttmacher researcher. States where abortion remains legal “are inundated with people from states with abortion bans seeking care,” she said, adding that the influx is resulting in longer wait times for appointments and stretching clinic staff to their limits.
Joffe added that there are likely to be more closures in light of increasing abortion restrictions. The Guttmacher analysis notes that several states — including Indiana, Ohio and South Carolina — have abortion bans that are temporarily blocked in court and may go into effect soon.
“The most important thing for me is that we are in a very chaotic legal situation after Dobbs,” Joffe said.