As states like Texas and Oklahoma restrict abortion access ahead of a pivotal Supreme Court decision, Americans are being forced to travel farther from home to access care. But leaving town to escape restrictive laws is neither an easy solution nor an equitable one.
Texas is a case in point. Following the signing of a law that bans abortion after about six weeks, an average of 1,400 Texans a month are traveling outside the state for abortions, according to a March study from the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project. The majority head for New Mexico or Oklahoma — a plan that has now been complicated by the Oklahoma legislature’s April 5th passage of a total abortion ban.
Traveling to access abortions is not new. In 2017, for example, about 12% of pregnant people living in states with restrictive abortion laws sought care elsewhere in the U.S., according to a study in The Lancet. That included over half the patients living in Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, and Wyoming.