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Mar 20, 2024, 1:43pm EDT
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US records highest number of abortions in a decade, despite bans

Insights from The 19th, The Atlantic, and Forbes

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Pro-choice and anti-abortion both demonstrate outside the United States Supreme Court as the court hears arguments over a challenge to a Texas law that bans abortion after six weeks in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 1, 2021
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
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The News

The United States recorded its highest number of abortions in over a decade during 2023, the first full calendar year after the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade allowed states to ban the procedure.

An estimated 1,026,690 Americans had an abortion last year, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit focused on reproductive rights. That was 10% more than in 2020, the last year for which there is comprehensive data.

The Guttmacher Institute said a key factor in the rise was likely an increase in access to telehealth since the pandemic, allowing women to obtain the abortion pill online instead of visiting a clinic. Abortion via medication accounted for 63% of all abortions last year — up from 53% in 2020.

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Supreme Court could soon curtail abortion pill access

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Sources:  
The 19th, The Washington Post

Next week, the country’s highest court will hear arguments in a case about mifepristone, one of two drugs used in a medication abortion. The outcome “could have sweeping consequences for Americans, regardless of their state’s abortion laws,” The 19th, a news website focused on gender policy, reported.

The court will hear from anti-abortion medical providers who disagree with the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to expand access to medication abortion by allowing it to be prescribed up to 10 weeks into pregnancy instead of seven, and to remove the requirement that it be administered over three in-person doctor’s appointments, instead allowing patients to take it themselves. The justices can’t ban the pill, The Washington Post reported, but they could restrict access to it.

The access gap might be widening

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Sources:  
The Atlantic, Yahoo Life

The overturning of Roe v. Wade may have convinced more women to seek abortions as public opinion on the topic has become more favorable, experts told The Atlantic, but it’s also widening the gap between who can access care and who can’t. “For most Americans, abortion might be more accessible than it’s ever been,” The Atlantic’s Rose Horowitch wrote. “But for another, more vulnerable group, abortion is a far-off privilege.”

“What we really see is a picture of two Americas,” one expert told Yahoo Life: One where access to abortion is gone, and one where access has improved.

Despite increase, there remains a massive unmet need

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Sources:  
Forbes, The Guttmacher Institute

“We can’t let the overall consistent number of abortions nationally obscure the incredible unmet need and disastrous impact of abortion bans on people who already have the least access,” the co-chair of #WeCount, an initiative by the nonprofit Society of Family Planning that conducted its own study on abortion rates, said in a statement.

The Guttmacher Institute agreed, emphasizing that the increase in abortion rates doesn’t diminish how much the court’s ruling impacted the lives of Americans, citing the rise as “important evidence that people will continue to seek abortion care in spite of the policy barriers that anti-abortion policymakers impose.”

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