Greater travel distance to abortion services associated with lower abortion rates
Many states have implemented policies restricting abortion care clinicians and facilities. Such policies often result in clinic closures and inability to access care, which disproportionately impacts low-income women and non-white women. Clinic closures often result in increased travel to receive care. Increased travel for abortion is associated with delays in care, increased costs and stress. Previous research has shown that people are less likely to obtain abortion care the farther they live from an abortion care facility.
New research from ANSIRH examines the association between travel distance to the nearest abortion care facility and rates of abortion. After conducting a national analysis, researchers found that greater travel distances were associated with lower abortion rates. Statistical modeling showed that if abortion were to be integrated into primary care, over 15,000 additional abortions were estimated. If telemedicine were widely available, an additional 70,000+ abortions were estimated.
These results suggest that reducing travel distances to abortion facilities would increase access, even in states without restrictive laws and that integrating abortion into primary care or making medication abortion care available by telemedicine may decrease unmet need. As states continue to enact laws restricting abortion access, it is likely that distance to care will continue to grow. In order to mitigate these impacts, a public health approach to abortion would use strategies such as expanding the types of clinicians who can offer care, mobile clinics, telemedicine, and mail order delivery of medications.