Legal abortions in the United States decreased by more than 6% in the first six months that followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning the nearly 50 years of abortion precedent set in Roe v. Wade, according to a report from the pro-abortion nonprofit Society of Family Planning.
The average number of monthly abortions decreased from 82,270 in the two months before Roe v. Wade was overturned to 77,073 in the six months that followed the decision. This is a monthly decrease of about 5,377 abortions, which is about 32,260 fewer abortions over six months.
Although the number of abortions fluctuated month to month, every month that followed the Supreme Court decision had fewer abortions than April 2022. The national abortion rate fell from 13.2 per 1,000 women who are of reproductive age in April to 12.3 per 1,000 over the six-month period after the decision.
States that banned most abortions or imposed heavy restrictions saw a sharp downturn in abortion rates. The states with the largest decrease in abortions over the six-month period were Texas, which had 15,540 fewer abortions; Georgia, which had 10,930 fewer abortions; Tennessee, which had 6,560 fewer abortions; and Ohio, which had 4,920 fewer abortions. States that kept abortion legal saw an uptick in abortion procedures within the state.
Despite the overall abortion totals dropping, the report also found an increase in abortions provided through virtual telehealth clinics, which have increased in every month that followed the Supreme Court decision. In April, before the decision, there were 3,610 abortions provided through telehealth. In December, that number jumped by 137% to 8,540 abortions. In April, 4% of all abortions were provided via telehealth, and in December, it accounted for 11% of abortions.
The reporting effort, which is called #WeCount, compiles data provided by known abortion providers. The report included numbers for 83% of legal abortion providers in the United States and provided estimates for the remaining 17%. The report did not consider illegal abortions.
Ushma Upadhyay, who co-chairs #WeCount, expressed frustration with the decrease in abortions.
“The #WeCount data show just how much abortion care has been disrupted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe,” Upadhyay said in a statement. “We know that when someone wants to have an abortion but is unable to get one, the impact on their lives can be devastating, economically, physically, socially, and psychologically. Multiply that impact by thousands, and that’s the landscape of abortion access right now.”
Alternatively, pro-life organizations expressed excitement over the results.
“The news that abortions in this country dropped by 32,260 in the six months following the Dobbs v. Jackson decision is absolutely wonderful!” Carol Tobias, the president of the National Right to Life Committee, told CNA.
“Women are choosing life for their children,” Tobias said. “With pro-abortion governors and a Biden administration doing [everything] possible to make abortion easily accessible, pro-lifers need to do even more to help and encourage women to choose life.”
Tessa Longbons, a senior research associate at the pro-life Lozier Institute, noted that even though there has been an uptick in some states, overall data shows that legislation has been effective.
“This is data straight from the abortion industry that shows that pro-life laws are having an impact,” Longbons said. “[The report] really does point to the effectiveness of those laws.”
Even though the data “points to a good start,” Longbons added, “there’s definitely potential for more progress … to drop those numbers down further.” She suggested that Congress create a federal abortion standard that imposes an earlier cutoff for when abortions are permitted and urged states to continue pushing pro-life legislation.
“It’s sort of an all of the above approach,” Longbons said.
In 13 states, abortions are banned in nearly all cases. Another five states imposed heavier restrictions on abortion since the Supreme Court decision. In eight states, restrictions are being held up in the court system.