The Bay State has seen a significant rise in out-of-state abortion travelers, including from Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling last year.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers on Wednesday reported an estimated 37% increase in the number of out-of-state residents seeking abortion care in Massachusetts. The study’s researchers also found a jump in nonprofit funding covering costs for out-of-state residents.
The federal right to provide abortion care was overturned by the Supreme Court last June, sparking rapid changes to state laws, including 15 complete abortion bans. Since the court overturned Roe v. Wade, there has been a documented increase in interstate travel to access abortion care.
“Before Dobbs, there was conjecture that certain states would get all the interstate traveling patients based on geographic proximity to states with complete abortion bans,” said study corresponding author Elizabeth Janiak, of the Brigham’s Division of Family Planning at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“After Dobbs, we set out to understand how many out-of-state travelers come to Massachusetts for abortion care, and how they cover the cost of care,” Janiak added.
The researchers conducted a retrospective review of 45,797 abortion care records from January 2018 to October 2022 at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. Then, they used time series analysis to estimate the expected number of abortions after Dobbs, based on the observed number before.
“We used rigorous statistical modeling to understand how the number of abortions in the four months after Dobbs compared to the expected counts we predicted,” Janiak said. “Because of the large historical dataset, we know that these are real changes and not chance fluctuations.”
When observed counts were compared to expected counts in Massachusetts, there was a 6.2% overall increase in the total number of abortions. When the data was broken down by state of residence, there was a 37.5% increase in the number of out-of-state residents, which is about 45 additional abortions.
“We’ve always had abortion travelers from New England, but now we see that we have people coming from much farther away like Texas, Louisiana, Florida, or Georgia,” Janiak said.
Also, the proportion of out-of-state residents receiving abortion funding increased by nearly 10% post-Dobbs, from 8% to 18% — while in-state residents’ use of funding increased by only 1%, from 2% to 3%, over the same period.
“Abortion costs are already well above the average out-of-pocket medical expenditures for reproductive age females in the United States,” Janiak said. “In the post-Dobbs context, interstate travel costs are even higher.”
“In states like Massachusetts, we know the state government as well as advocates and healthcare providers are very invested in ensuring abortion access,” Janiak added. “We hope the data from this study serves as an example of how states across the country that share this commitment can monitor the trends in and needs of interstate travelers.”