One-third of women seeking abortions travel more than 25 miles to access their procedures, according to a newly-released analysis by the Guttmacher Institute.
The survey, of data from 2008, found that 67 percent of abortion patients traveled less than 25 miles, 16 percent traveled 25–49 miles, 11 percent traveled 50–100 miles and 6 percent traveled more than 100 miles. The average distance traveled was 30 miles. Unsurprisingly, those seeking second-trimester abortions–which are offered by two-thirds of U.S. abortion providers–often ended up going farther.
25 miles doesn’t seem all that far to me, but I am a privileged girl who can afford gas and a car, and I have a job that would allow me a few days off to travel. Many women are not so lucky.
The survey is from 2008, and the number of women who will be forced to travel long distances is sure to increase, as more bills in Kansas, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Texas that shut down abortion clinics and limit access become law. These figures show the devastating effects of sweeping abortion bans that limit patients’ access to abortions, which are necessary medical procedures. As Feministing points out, it’s more than just geography that leads women to travel to seek out their healthcare—waiting periods greatly affect where women choose to have their abortions.
The survey found that people who lived in a state with a 24-hour waiting period were more than twice as likely to travel greater distances as those in states with no waiting period requirement. And this survey doesn’t even include folks who weren’t able to get an abortion at all due to these barriers. In short, anti-choice laws do what they’re intended to do: make it more difficult for people to get the reproductive health care they need.