". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Out-of-State Travel for Abortion Doubled since 2020

December 13, 2023

New research is showing that out-of-state travel for abortions has doubled over the past three years. According to a report published by the Planned Parenthood-affiliated Guttmacher Institute, the first six months of 2020 saw 40,600 women travel out of state for abortions, while the first six months of 2023 saw 92,100 women do the same. States which saw the greatest influx of “abortion tourism” were predominantly those bordering states with strong pro-life laws.

Mary Szoch, director of Family Research Council’s Center for Human Dignity, called the report “disheartening,” but noted that it “also shows the power of pro-life laws.” She explained, “In states where unborn babies are protected from being killed and their mothers are protected from the exploitation of the abortion industry, abortion numbers are falling.”

The Guttmacher report highlights that 14 states have enacted near-total pro-life protections since Roe v. Wade was dismantled last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, while Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America lists 15 states as having nine-month protections for the unborn, two as having heartbeat laws, three as having other pro-life protections, and four with pro-life legislation tied up in courts. Twenty-six states are identified as having few or no pro-life protections. While the Guttmacher report does not relay numbers for states with total or near-total protections, it does for states with heartbeat laws, showing the effectiveness of such legislation.

In Georgia, where both federal and state courts have upheld the Peach State’s Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, abortions have decreased by 4,960 (24%) since 2020. South Carolina, meanwhile, actually saw an increase in abortions ahead of the state Supreme Court upholding a heartbeat law. Since 2020, the Palmetto State saw a 124% increase in abortions. The South Carolina Supreme Court had previously struck down a heartbeat bill approved by the state legislature last year, allowing abortions to continue even after the fall of Roe, but upheld a revised version in August.

According to analysis of the Guttmacher report’s statistics, the stringent pro-life protections enacted in some states after the overturning of Roe spurred the increase in out-of-state abortion travel. The report denoted Illinois as the top abortion destination, with 18,870 non-residents visiting the state seeking abortions. Illinois is bordered by three states with near-total pro-life protections: Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri. The Guttmacher report also applauded Illinois for being one of 13 states with “shield” laws, which protect abortionists from “negative effects of out-of-state abortion restrictions and bans on abortion providers in the state.”

In the first six months of 2023, 8,230 women traveled to New Mexico for abortions. The state borders Texas and Oklahoma, which both have near-total pro-life protections. Florida saw 5,780 women visit the state for abortions. Although Florida currently has 15-week pro-life protections in place — which will automatically be converted to six-week protections signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis (R) should the state Supreme Court uphold the 15-week law — it borders four states with near-total protections: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Florida also borders Georgia, where an aforementioned heartbeat law prohibits abortions after roughly the first six weeks of pregnancy. Colorado also received mention as an “abortion tourism” destination, as it borders Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Utah, which all have pro-life protections on the books. Utah currently has 18-week protections in place, with stronger pro-life legislation currently being challenged in court.

Kelly Baden, vice president for Public Policy at the Guttmacher Institute, noted, “Policies that protect and expand access, such as those that permit any qualified health care provider — not just physicians — to offer abortion care or shield laws that protect providers from criminal investigation from hostile states, have been critical in helping states meet patients’ needs.”

Szoch responded, “What Baden should have said is that in states where politicians have put the wallets of the abortion business over the lives of mothers, abortion businesses have continued to profit by killing as many unborn children as possible.” She added, “This data, combined with the CDC’s data showing that the abortion drug, mifepristone, now accounts for 56% of abortions, should be terrifying.”

Szoch also declared, “This points to the need for the federal government to work to protect unborn children from being killed beginning at the moment of fertilization. Until this is accomplished, the abortion industry will continue to kill unborn children and exploit their mothers regardless of what state they are born in.”

Earlier this year, Family Research Council hosted a Townhall for Life, in which pro-life leaders and politicians emphasized the necessity of a federal pro-life standard. During the Townhall, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) pointed out that abortion is a moral issue, not a matter of “geography,” arguing that the federal government has a responsibility to put in place a nationwide pro-life standard. He asked, “Does it really matter where you’re conceived? If you’re conceived in New York or California, you name the place. … Folks, this is a human rights issue. It’s not geography.”

Other states the Guttmacher reported highlights as “abortion tourism” destinations for non-residents include North Carolina (8,920), Kansas (5,780), Maryland (4,400), Georgia (4,370), New York (3,700), California (3,630), New Jersey (3,040), South Carolina (2,490), Minnesota (2,420), Virginia (2,370), Ohio (1,610), Nevada (1,350), Michigan (1,270), Washington (1,210), and Pennsylvania (1,140).

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.