Tumbling Roe can mean that women seeking abortion have to travel hundreds of miles

A reversal by Roe v. Wade – and the flow of abortion restrictions that such a decision would initiate – would affect the distance women have to travel to their nearest clinic, according to a new report released this week by the Guttmacher Institute. The institute, which advocates abortion rights, used data from the US Census Bureau to estimate the number of women of childbearing age living in each census block and calculated the driving distance to the nearest abortion clinic.

Illinois, North Carolina and California are among the states that could see the biggest jump in abortion patients outside the state, as their clinics would be closest to women whose own states are positioned to quickly ban the procedure, according to Guttmacher’s analysis.

In states like Louisiana, Texas, and Idaho, women would see the distance they had to travel to the nearest clinic increase tenfold or more if Roe v. Wade was converted and abortion bans came into force in the states most likely to implement them.

The new data will be released as the Supreme Court hears two major abortion cases. A case that is being argued on Monday concerns Texas’ six-week abortion ban, which bans abortion after fetal heart activity. The law appears to run counter to the constitutional protection of abortions before viability – a point usually around 23 weeks into pregnancy – which the Supreme Court set out in its 1973 Roe decision.
The law has already given a foretaste of what access to abortion would want if other states were allowed to impose extreme limits on the procedure or outright bans. Clinics in Oklahoma and Kansas have reported large increases in Texas patients, leading to delays for residents of their own states to get appointments, while Texas women have traveled as far as Colorado and California to obtain the procedure, according to court documents. in the case.

In December, the Supreme Court will hear another case arising from the Mississippi that challenges the state’s 15-week abortion ban.

In both cases, the states are asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, even though the judges in the Texas dispute stated that they will not be focused on that issue. It is also possible that the court will decide the cases in a way that does not overthrow Roe, but rather weakens its precedent, allowing more aggressive restrictions on abortion but still preserving abortion rights in some cases.

If the court were to reverse Roe directly, the Guttmacher Institute predicts that 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion almost immediately. A dozen of these states have so-called trigger laws, where the abortion ban would be triggered by a reversal of Roe from the Supreme Court. Sixteen states have extreme abortion restrictions – such as the near-total bans in Arkansas and Alabama, or the six-week bans in Idaho, Kentucky and Tennessee – that are on the books but are not enforced due to lower court rulings citing Roe v. Wade.

Nine states banned abortion before Roe was decided, and a further five, Guttmacher predicts, will quickly take steps to pass new laws banning abortion, given those states’ recent trend toward restrictive laws and their political composition.

“There is potential for those states that ban roe before roe to come into force if roe is overthrown,” Elizabeth Nash, a senior state emissions chief at Guttmacher, told CNN.

Referring to the five states that her organization has considered wanting to pass new laws banning abortion after a Roe repatriation, Nash said that “it is all states that have recent history of restricting access to abortion and ongoing debates in the Legislative Assembly on abortion, routinely. “

Hundreds of miles of travel to the nearest abortion clinic

If states were allowed to ban abortion, the driving distances their residents would face to access the nearest nearest clinic would increase exponentially.

If all 26 state that Guttmacher is looking at abortion bans, Louisiana women seeking abortion would see the average distance to their nearest clinic increase by 1720%.

In that scenario, the next nearest clinic for nearly three out of five women in Louisiana would be Illinois. For the rest of the women in the state, Kansas or North Carolina would probably offer the nearest clinics.

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Women in Oklahoma, another trigger law state, would be dependent on Kansas for their nearest clinic, according to Guttmacher’s analysis, which said the average driving distance to the nearest clinic would be increased from 18 miles to 181 miles.

For women in Idaho, who have a six-week abortion ban that would be enforced depending on court decisions, the driving distance to their nearest clinic would increase from 21 miles to 250 miles in the Guttmacher scenario.

How abortion access in blue states would be affected if red states were allowed to implement bans

States that have taken proactive steps to protect abortion rights would not be spared the impact of a stream of abortion bans. In a scenario where 26 states banned abortion, more than a dozen would see a likely significant increase in patients outside the state just because their clinics would be the closest clinics for women in states where abortion is banned, according to the Guttmacher data.

Illinois stands to be a particularly critical “destination state” for patients in the surrounding states, where abortion could be banned after a Roe turn.

For nearly 9 million women – including for women in neighboring states like Indiana and Missouri, as well as women as far away as Louisiana and Alabama – their next nearest clinics would be Illinois, according to Guttmacher. The percentage of women who have to drive to the state to reach their nearest clinic will increase by 8,651% percent.

Illinois has taken steps to expand abortion, by enacting statutory protections for the procedure and making it eligible for Medicaid enrollment, Nash said.

North Carolina also stands to become a hub for abortion patients outside the state if Roe is overthrown. For 1 million in Tennessee, 370,000 women in Kentucky, 230,000 women in Louisiana and 200,000 in Mississippi – all states with trigger laws – North Carolina would be the second closest state in the hypothetical analysis of Guttmacher.


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