State abortion bans prove easy to evade

They say average daily orders for abortion medication received by Aid Access from 30 states increased to 213.7 from June 24, the day of the high court’s decision, to the end of August. That’s up from a daily average of 82.6 from Sept. 1, 2021, to May 1. The data comes mainly from states that have either banned abortion, restricted access to it or where restrictions are under consideration by state lawmakers.

Gomperts didn’t respond to a request for comment. In a June interview with POLITICO Magazine, Gomperts rejected laws banning abortion.

“What the criminalization does is, it’s framing abortion as something that is bad,” she said. “And it’s not. An abortion is perfectly fine. It’s just something that people use to organize their lives.”

The research letter says demand for abortion medication increased the most in the 12 states that banned the procedure soon after the Supreme Court decision.

For example, Aid Access orders from Louisiana increased to 15 per day in the two months following the court’s decision from an average of 5.6.

Louisiana, where abortion is now banned, is also surrounded by states with abortion bans, making it difficult for residents to travel elsewhere to get an abortion.

Medication abortion orders from nearby Mississippi and Arkansas increased to more than seven per day from two in the same time period.

Abigail Aiken, associate professor at the University of Texas School of Public Policy, who wrote the research letter, said that the findings are consistent with her past work, which showed that abortion restrictions lead people to figure out how to get abortions despite the legal risks.

“Those who self-manage may have more financial hardship or live in rural areas,” said Aiken.

Aid Access also saw increased orders, albeit more modest, from 18 other states for which it tabulated data: five that ban abortion after six weeks, 10 states where legislators are pursuing abortion restrictions and three states that still permit legal abortions.

Aiken said the data shows people are becoming more aware of telemedicine abortion.

She also said state bans may be stoking stigma around abortion and prompting more patients to prefer medication abortion because it can be used privately at home.

“We saw a lot of people saying the reason for this request was the privacy that self management affords,” she said. “In places where there are bans, [people] often talk about how they felt increasingly stigmatized or that they really should be ashamed of what they were doing, because the law says that you can’t do this.”

The Guttmacher Institute, a sexual health policy group, reported earlier this year that more than half of abortions in the U.S. are now induced with medication. That percentage has steadily grown, displacing surgical abortions, since the FDA approved the first abortion pill in 2000.


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