Analysis

Guttmacher reports multiple abortion facility closures – but what do the numbers mean?

states

“One month post-Roe: at least 43 abortion clinics across 11 states have stopped offering abortion care,” according to Planned Parenthood’s former research arm and “special affiliate,” the Guttmacher Institute. The news follows the June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

It is important to note that — while Guttmacher does not mention this fact — some of these facilities have relocated to other states, where they are still offering abortions.

The most recent abortion statistics for 2020 reveal that 930,160 abortions were committed nationally — an increase of 67,840 over the 862,320 abortions reported in 2017. This translates into 2,548 preborn human beings killed every day in the U.S. by abortion — approximately 106 per hour, 1.8 per minute, and one every 35 seconds.

Facilities that ceased committing abortions

“As of July 24, 30 days after the fall of Roe, 11 states—all in the South and Midwest—had either banned abortion completely (Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas) or implemented a ban on abortion starting at six weeks of pregnancy (Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee),” Guttmacher wrote.

“Four states were enforcing a ban on abortion starting at six weeks of pregnancy as of July 24 and two of them had fewer clinics providing abortions than before the Supreme Court decision,” Guttmacher wrote. These include Georgia, which Guttmacher claims has lost one abortion facility (13 facilities, previously 14) and Tennessee, which lost four facilities (3 facilities, previously 7). Ohio (9 facilities) and South Carolina (3 facilities) remained the same, they claimed.

“Prior to the Supreme Court decision on June 24, these 11 states had a total of 71 clinics that provided abortion care. As of July 24, there were only 28 clinics still offering abortions, all located in the four states with six-week bans. Across these 11 states, the number of clinics offering abortions dropped by 43 in just one month,” Guttmacher added.

Seven states are abortion free 

According to the Guttmacher report, “Seven states that have imposed total abortion bans since June 24 containing only very limited or no exceptions no longer had a single clinic providing abortion care as of July 24.”

These states included:

  • Alabama (previously 5 facilities)
  • Arkansas (previously 2 facilities)
  • Mississippi (previously 1 facility)
  • Missouri (previously 1 facility)
  • Oklahoma (previously 5 facilities)
  • South Dakota (previously 1 facility)
  • Texas (previously 23 facilities)

Jackson Women’s Health Organization, also known as the “Pink House,” was once the sole facility in Mississippi. It recently relocated from Mississippi to Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Planned Parenthood is also considering expanding into that state.

In Texas, Whole Woman’s Health abortion facilities and the Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services abortion facility announced plans to move to New Mexico. In addition, Whole Woman’s Health is reportedly also considering opening a clinic in North Carolina.

Also, while Planned Parenthood in Texas has ceased abortions, they remain open for other “services.” A letter Planned Parenthood sent to the Texas Tribune, which they financially support, read: “These last 30 days have left us devastated, but by no means defeated. It is crucial that our doors remain open and that we expand availability of our other sexual and reproductive health services that are needed now more than ever… But as a result of the ban, our doctors, nurses, and health care staff have been forced to turn away people who need abortion….”

As of the writing of this article, Planned Parenthood has temporarily closed its South Dallas Abortion Services Center and Southwest Fort Worth Abortion Services Center, which only offered abortions. The Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Houston, a former mega center abortion facility, is open but is allegedly not committing abortions. In other states, Planned Parenthood is pausing abortions, and Planned Parenthood’s website in Knoxville, Tennessee, states the facility “can no longer provide medication or surgical abortion.”

Image: Planned Parenthood temporarily closes abortion clinics in Texas

Planned Parenthood temporarily closes abortion clinics in Texas

Abortion facilities in states with additional restrictions could also relocate. Red River Women’s Clinic director Tammi Kromenaker has told media that she was prepared to open shop in Moorhead, Minnesota, next week if North Dakota’s abortion ban is allowed by a judge to take effect. CHOICES, a Memphis-based abortion facility, is opening a facility in the college town of Carbondale, Illinois.

Pro-life protections in additional states could also play a role in the number of states that become abortion free. Even this week, the AP reported that “a bill banning abortions except in case of rape or incest is up for a final vote Friday in West Virginia’s Senate, which could make the state the first to pass new legislation restricting access to abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last month removing its protected status as a constitutional right.” While in Louisiana, the First Circuit Court of Appeal has granted a preliminary injunction to put that state’s pro-life trigger laws back in effect after a district judge had blocked the trigger laws from being enforced.

Potential of 80,500 abortions thwarted in seven states

Guttmacher’s analysis also found that in 2020, the seven states mentioned previously (Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas) had accounted for 80,500 abortions, or an average of about 6,700 abortions each month.

Guttmacher based their 80K estimates on reported abortions for 2020 as follows: Alabama (5,700), Arkansas (3,250), Mississippi (3,560), Missouri (170), Oklahoma (9,690), South Dakota (130), and Texas (58,030).

But Guttmacher’s methodology may be somewhat questionable, given the fact that the Texas Heartbeat Act took effect in September of 2021, several months prior to the June 2022 overturn of Roe. As a result of that pro-life legislation, Texas was beginning to see a drastic reduction in abortions already.

For example, in January 2021, prior to the Texas Heartbeat Act, Texas recorded 5,199 abortions and 4,250 in February 2021. But in January of 2022 (prior to the June 24 Dobbs ruling but after the Heartbeat Act was implemented), Texas only recorded 2,461 abortions in January — a nearly 53% decrease from 2021, and 2,464 in February — a 42% decrease from 2021.

While the news sounds good, it is important to note that the information may be much more nuanced than Guttmacher is alleging, given the fluidity of state abortion laws, pending court cases and decisions, the ability for women to travel to other states to obtain abortions, and expanded access to abortion pills by mail.

“In 2020, 9% of abortions in the United States (81,120 out of 930,160) were obtained by people traveling out of their state of residence,” Guttmacher previously reported.

The fact is that it took 50 years to see Roe dismantled and it will take time to fully document the impact. And while the Dobbs decision will likely save many babies, there is still much work to be done to protect every preborn life in every state across this country.

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