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Abortions Increase Significantly in States Bordering Bans, New Analysis Reveals

In recent years, the landscape of abortion access in the United States has undergone significant changes. The controversial Supreme Court ruling, commonly known as the Dobbs decision, has ignited debates and led to an unexpected consequence: a surge in the number of abortions. This analysis delves into the startling increase in abortions in states bordering those with bans, shedding light on the complex factors contributing to this trend.

The Dobbs Decision: A Catalyst for Change

The Guttmacher Institute, a prominent research and policy organization advocating for abortion rights, recently released a comprehensive report that unveils a concerning trend in abortion rates. This analysis focuses on the period from the first half of 2023, shortly after the Dobbs decision, and compares it to 2020, providing crucial insights into the evolving landscape of reproductive health in the United States.

Surge in Abortions: New Mexico and Wyoming at the Forefront

New Mexico and Wyoming have experienced the most dramatic increases in abortion rates, with more than three times as many abortions performed in the first half of 2023 compared to 2020. These startling statistics raise numerous questions about the factors driving this surge.

Factors Behind the Surge

While the Dobbs decision played a pivotal role in reshaping the abortion landscape, other factors have also contributed to the surge in abortions. The COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted daily life and posed health risks, may have influenced individual attitudes towards pregnancy. Additionally, the expanded access to medication abortion through telehealth services has altered the way women access reproductive healthcare.

Varied State Responses

Interestingly, not all states experienced uniform increases in abortion rates. Many states that proactively protected abortion access witnessed even larger spikes between 2020 and 2023 than between 2017 and 2020. For instance, Illinois saw a remarkable 69% increase in abortions between 2020 and 2023, compared to a 25% increase from 2017 to 2020. Similarly, South Carolina experienced a staggering 124% surge since 2020, as opposed to a mere 4% increase between 2017 and 2020.

The Role of Ongoing Developments

As monthly updates continue, these estimates may reveal the impact of additional abortion restrictions implemented since June, such as the six-week ban upheld by the South Carolina Supreme Court in August. These ongoing developments could further shape the landscape of reproductive healthcare access.

What the Numbers Don’t Show

It’s essential to note that these estimates from the Guttmacher Institute encompass abortions provided within formal healthcare settings, including in-person clinics and telehealth services. They do not include data on self-managed abortions, such as medication abortions provided by organizations like AidAccess.


The Dobbs decision and subsequent developments have unquestionably influenced abortion rates in the United States. While bans in certain states have led to increased abortions in neighboring regions, other factors like the pandemic and telehealth services have also played a role. The abortion landscape is evolving rapidly, and understanding these trends is vital for policymakers and healthcare providers alike.

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1. How did the Dobbs decision impact abortion rates?

The Dobbs decision led to a surge in abortions in states where access remained legal, particularly in states bordering those with bans.

2. Are there factors other than legal restrictions contributing to the increase in abortions?

Yes, factors like the COVID-19 pandemic and expanded access to medication abortion through telehealth have also influenced abortion rates.

3. Which states saw the most significant increase in abortion rates?

New Mexico and Wyoming experienced the largest increases, with over three times as many abortions in the first half of 2023 compared to 2020.

4. How have states with proactive abortion access laws fared in terms of abortion rates?

Many states with robust abortion access laws saw even larger increases in abortion rates between 2020 and 2023 than between 2017 and 2020.

5. What is not included in the abortion rate estimates?

The estimates provided by the Guttmacher Institute only account for abortions within formal healthcare settings and do not include self-managed abortions.

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