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Abortions Are Up in Blue Neighbors of Red States

While we are on the subject of abortions (which we seem to be very often, when we are not writing about the various legal troubles Donald Trump, Mark Meadows, and Rudy Giuliani are in), how about this? Many states have now banned (almost) all abortions. So looking at abortions in states adjacent to them gives some perspective. Are the laws stopping abortions, or just moving them around? Data from the Guttmacher Institute for the first half of 2023 are revealing.

The numbers say that abortions increased in every state that protected the procedure, but the increase was most pronounced in Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington. All of these states border one or more states that have severely curtailed the procedure. In Illinois, for example, the number is up 69% compared to 2020. Illinois borders five states where abortion is greatly restricted, so this increase is not much of a surprise. New Mexico, which has a long border with Texas, saw a jump of 220%. There may also have been some women coming in from Arizona, where abortion is illegal after 16 weeks of pregnancy. There is no time limit in New Mexico.

Isaac Maddow-Zimet, the lead researcher on the study, said: "I would say the scale of it is... striking. You know, it represents real people who have to travel to seek care. That travel often implies significant financial costs. It often implies significant logistical costs. And not everybody is going to be able to bear those costs."

The implications of this are clear. Women in a state where abortion is banned and who have the money to travel out of state to get one, do so. So the ban mostly affects poor women and women in states far from a state that allows abortion. In practice, women in the Deep South are the most affected. All states outside the Deep South either allow abortions up to 15 weeks or border a state that does. Hence all the interest by state legislatures in red states to make traveling out of state to get an abortion a crime. These laws have not yet been tested in court, but any person indicted for helping a woman travel out of state to get an abortion is surely going to bring up the fact in court that only Congress can regulate interstate commerce. (V)

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