Travel times to abortion facilities increased significantly after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, according to the study | Tech US News



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About a third of women of reproductive age in the United States now live more than an hour from the nearest abortion facility after the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion earlier this year, according to a study.

As more than a dozen states enacted full or partial abortion bans after the Supreme Court’s ruling, the number of facilities actively offering abortion care dropped by about a tenth, from 749 to 671, according to the study, published this month in Journal of the American Medical Association.

With this drop in facilities, the average travel time to receive abortion care has more than tripled, from about 28 minutes in 2021 to 100 minutes after Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, according to the study by a team that included researchers. of Boston Children’s Hospital; Boston University School of Public Health; University of California, San Francisco, Harvard University; and Harvard Medical School.

In states with total abortion bans and laws banning abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, travel time increased by more than four hours, on average, the study found.

The southern states were the most affected. While they used to be able to travel 15 minutes to get an abortion before the Dobbs decision, women in Texas and Louisiana must now travel more than six hours, on average.

“We need to understand the reduced access to this essential health service to better understand what resources we need to invest to restore that access,” Yulin Hswen, senior assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, and senior. author of the study, said in a statement.

Terry McGovern, a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said the study’s results were not surprising and “are in line with the dire consequences that we all expected after Dobbs.”

“The Supreme Court of the United States has taken away a right from women, girls and pregnant people, and it’s clearly causing serious hardship in every possible way,” he said.

The increased travel times factor into a variety of other barriers, including requiring people seeking abortions to spend more money on travel, take extra time off work and find child care, McGovern said. She said these obstacles are only magnified for marginalized communities and people who are uninsured or have lower incomes.

“Obviously, people who have money and access and resources and don’t have to deal with structural racism and transphobia are going to have an easier time,” McGovern said. “What this kind of research shows us is that the Supreme Court placed additional burdens on a population that was already constantly facing many structural barriers.”

About 40% of black women must travel more than an hour for abortion care, up from 15% before the Supreme Court’s ruling, the study found. More than half of American Indian and Alaska Native women have to travel more than an hour for abortion care.

Women without health insurance or with lower incomes also disproportionately faced longer trips for abortion care, according to the study.

“Abortion is out of reach for too many people, especially people of color, low-income people and rural communities,” said Hillary Schneller, an attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “After the Dobbs decision, this just got a lot worse.”

Many of the remaining active clinics in states where abortion remains legal are now seeing an influx of patients traveling long distances for care, Schneller said. Clinics are unable to keep up with demand, creating long wait times for “very time-sensitive abortion care,” he added.

McGovern and Schneller expressed hope that abortion bans in certain states could be challenged. They would also like to see Dobbs’ decision overturned.

McGovern also suggested ballot initiatives to enshrine access to the procedure and “be more creative in thinking about where health services are located and about more convenient ways to deliver services,” including telemedicine and medications.

Schneller also said telehealth and mail-order abortion pills are ways to increase access to abortion care, but said “some of these avenues are not accessible to the communities most affected by abortion bans.” For example, both options often require internet access, which may not be available to many rural communities, he said.

“None of these are going to be a complete solution,” he said. “But there is great work on all these fronts to help people access health care in their communities, whether it’s through telehealth, abortion pills by mail, or going to a clinic to see a doctor.”

(c) 2022 USA Today
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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