In case you were wondering how that whole protecting women by limiting their access to safe and legal abortion thing was going: not well! One-third of U.S. women seeking abortions travel more than 25 miles to access services, according to a new study — not exactly the type of coming-of-age road trip you want to reminisce about.
According to the Guttmacher Institute survey, American women traveled an average of 30 miles to access affordable/safe/just plain available abortion services. Sixty-seven percent of abortion patients traveled less than 25 miles, 16% traveled 25–49 miles, 11% traveled 50–100 miles and 6% traveled more than 100 miles. Unsurprisingly, women who lived in states that mandate unwanted counseling and waiting periods, as well as those in rural areas and women seeking second-trimester abortions were more likely to have to go far, far, away. Here's more:
In 2008, 25 states required mandatory counseling followed by a waiting period, typically 24 hours. In seven of those states, in-person counseling was required, necessitating two visits. This study found that women who lived in a state with a 24-hour waiting period were more than twice as likely to travel greater distances as women in states with no waiting period requirement regardless of whether there was a two-visit requirement.
Although two-thirds of U.S. abortion providers offer second-trimester abortion services, that percentage drops with each additional week’s gestation. Therefore, women seeking later procedures are more likely to have to travel greater distances. The authors found that women obtaining abortions at 16 weeks or later were twice as likely to have traveled 25, 50 or 100 miles or more compared with women seeking first-trimester procedures.
Women who live in rural areas have to travel greater distances for many services, including primary care and even groceries. It is therefore not surprising that 31% of women who lived in rural areas traveled more than 100 miles to access abortion services, and an additional 43% traveled between 50–100 miles. Rural women are underrepresented among abortion patients.
Tons of states have enforced or enacted new restrictions since 2008, which means shit's even more dire than this study suggests. Feeling angry? Consider donating to a reproductive health organization that serves an area lacking providers. The Lilith Fund and TEA Fund are two independent Texas abortion funds that can get you started.
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