About 100,000 people seeking abortions will be unable to access a provider within the first year of a Roe reversal. As a result, 75,000 of them will likely give birth, according to predictions released on May 6, 2022, by Caitlin Myers, an economics professor at Middlebury College and co-Director of MiddData. Myers’ predictions are based on state policy changes as of the time of release.
These predictions also assume that the people from ban states seeking an abortion are able to get an appointment with remaining providers, which Myers notes may not be possible due to high demand and long wait times.
The influx of abortion seekers to so-called clinic states—or states that have legal protections for abortion in place—is predicted to be large should Roe v. Wade be overturned. Projecting which states will see the largest increases has everything to do with geography.
A large influx of abortion-seekers is projected to look for services in North Carolina due to its proximity to many southeastern states where abortion is certain or likely to be banned with Roe now overturned. But unlike Illinois, the legal status of abortion in North Carolina is tenuous.
Clinics in North Carolina have already seen an increase over the past year of out-of-state abortion seekers, with some coming from as far as Texas in search of services, according to Amber Gavin, the vice president of Advocacy and Operations at A Woman’s Choice, a group of North Carolina and Florida-based abortion clinics. And with Roe overturned, Gavin expects those numbers will keep climbing.
“I do think we’re going to see probably well over 50% to 80% [more] patients than what we’re currently seeing,” she told Stacker in an interview in May.
Gavin also said A Woman’s Choice clinics are considering hiring more staff and physicians to accommodate the influx. “We’re working really hard with our staff, with abortion funds, with advocates on the ground to make sure that people who need and want that care are able to get it,” she said.
Illinois has long been a reproductive care hub for Midwesterners. Out-of-state patients seeking abortions rose from 2,970 in 2014 to 9,686 in 2020, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data. These numbers are projected to continue to rise as people come from Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, and even some Southern states. To increase access, two Planned Parenthood clinics have opened in recent years along the Illinois border. The state is one of the few in the Midwest where the right to abortion is certain to be protected long-term.
Many clinic states have made moves since 2019 to fund abortion services and codify abortion. Vermont, for instance, passed Act 47, which preserves the right to reproductive choice, including abortion, in the year following the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Several other states followed suit, including California, Connecticut, Oregon, Maine, and Illinois. The subsequent appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in 2020 cemented the court’s conservative supermajority and encouraged legal challenges to Roe v. Wade in 2021.
Some states have already taken steps to ensure access to safe abortions for people crossing state lines.
In 2019, New York funded the New York Abortion Access Fund, intended to help low-income abortion seekers from other states travel to New York for services. In March 2022, California passed SB 245, an act that eliminates out-of-pocket costs for abortions for those who have private insurance, as well as those on California’s Medicaid. In Oregon, legislators passed the Reproductive Health Equity Fund, which allocates $15 million to expand abortion services, including helping to cover expenses of those traveling to Oregon for abortions. And Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill that will shield Connecticut abortion providers and out-of-state patients from being sued by states where abortion—even outside the state—is illegal.
Related: Abortion in America: How access and attitudes have changed through the centuries