At least 66 clinics in 15 states have stopped providing abortions since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, according to an analysis.
The number of clinics providing the procedure in the states dropped from 79 on June 24, the day of the decision, to 13 on October 2, the Guttmacher Institute found.
Each of the 13 remaining clinics are in Georgia. The Peach state bans the procedure after the sixth week of pregnancy.
Abortion rights across America were thrown into chaos after the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June.
The high court ruled that the federal right to an abortion was not recognized in the constitution, overturning the landmark Roe ruling in 1973.
Upon the decision, trigger laws banning or restricting the procedure went into effect in over a dozen states.
There are restrictions or an outright ban on abortion in 16 US states. In five others, potential abortions blocks are being blocked by state courts. One state was not included in the Guttmacher report.
Abortion is restricted or outright banned in 16 US red states, largely concentrated in the US south
‘Much more research will need to be conducted to grasp the full extent of the chaos, confusion and harm that the US Supreme Court has unleashed on people needing abortion,’ said Rachel Jones, a Guttmacher researcher.
‘But the picture that is starting to emerge should alarm anyone who supports reproductive freedom and the right to bodily autonomy.’
The new report does not include data on hospitals and physician offices that provided abortion and stopped them after the court ruling.
Jones noted that clinics provide most US abortions, including procedures and dispensing abortion medication.
What was the June SCOTUS decision about and what does it mean for abortion access?
Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization considered whether states can ban abortion before viability, the point at which survival is possible outside the womb, around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The case comes from a blocked 2018 Mississippi law banning procedures after 15 weeks, which abortion rights proponents argued blatantly violated the ‘viability’ standard handed down with the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v Casey.
When the court overturned the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, justices returned power to police the procedure to the states.
Now, every state has the authority to set their own laws for abortion access.
Abortion is now fully banned in over a dozen states with many others setting gestation limits.
Recent Guttmacher, a New York-based abortion rights group, data show just over half of US abortions are done with medication.
Nationally, there were more than 800 abortion clinics in 2020, the institute said.
Abortion rights activists believe the Roe ruling will not change the raw number of the procedures performed each year.
Instead, they fear women in states with restrictions will have to travel long-ways across the country to a place where it is allowed.
There are also concerns women who cannot access to procedure legally will turn to dangerous ‘back-alley’ procedures.
Before the Roe ruling, an estimated 200 women died every year from complications caused by unsanctioned abortions, experts warn.
States without abortion providers are concentrated in the South.
In some of those places, many women seeking abortions would need to travel so far that the journey will be impossible, Jones said.
Dr Jeanne Corwin, who provides abortions in Indiana and Ohio, said clinic closures ‘will result in immeasurable harm to women’s physical health, mental health and financial health.´´
In several states, access is under threat because bans were put on hold only temporarily by court injunctions.
These include Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming.
‘It is precarious from a medical standpoint and certainly from a business standpoint,’ said Dr Katie McHugh, an OB-GYN who provides abortions in Indiana.
‘It’s difficult to keep the doors open and the lights on when you don´t know if you´re going to be a felon tomorrow.’
Planned Parenthood, one of the largest reproductive health non-profits in the US is launching mobile abortion clinics to alleviate access barriers.
It announced a first mobile clinic to be launched in southern Illinois in the coming weeks.
The abortion truck will stay within the borders of the Prairie state, but close to the border with Missouri and Kentucky – which both have significant restrictions in place.
It hopes to minimize travel time for women in the two states hoping to get the procedure.