WASHINGTON (TND) — After years of decline, the number of abortions is on the rise. The report comes as the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and give the power back to the states.
The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion access, says the number of patients seeking abortions in the U.S. rose in 2020, reversing a 30-year decline. Guttmacher does this report every three years after contacting all known abortion providers in the country.
The new report shows that the number of abortions increased by 8% in 2020 compared to 2017.
“We actually have seen the number of abortions increase over the last couple of years. We know that people continue to need this care,” said Brittany Packnett Cunningham, an activist who was with President Barack Obama's Task for 21st Century Policing.
In Maine, abortions were up 16% in 2019 after lawmakers passed a bill allowing state Medicaid funds to pay for abortion care.
“That probably played a major factor in the increase in the state of Maine. People who waited for access to an abortion can get it,” said Nicole Clegg with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “It's no surprise to us when you expand access and expand coverage for abortion care, you are going to see a slight uptick.”
But it’s not just New England: all four regions of the country are seeing an increase.
The rise is greatest in the West, which is up 12%. The Midwest is seeing a 10% increase while abortions have gone up by 8% in the South and 2% in the Northeast.
The head of Mountain Area Pregnancy Services in Asheville, N.C. is cautiously optimistic that if the Supreme Court reverses Roe, it will also reverse this trend.
“Everyone here is life-affirming and believes that at the end of the day we never want to see a baby's life ended before it has a chance to begin,” Mountain Area Pregnancy Services executive director Kristi Brown said.
Medication abortions accounted for 54% of U.S. abortions in 2020 — the first time making up over half — but 34 states restrict abortion pills with some requiring a doctor to be physically present while the pills are prescribed.
“Even if states do restrict access to pills through regular providers like telehealth providers or clinics, people will still be able to find pills through the alternate routes of access,” said Elissa Wells, co-founder of PlanCPills.org.