While these numbers show a stark decrease in the official number of performed abortions, it is likely that large numbers of clandestine procedures are not captured. Studies comparing the incidence of abortion (legal or clandestine) in countries and states with strong restrictions with ones with better access to abortion has found no significant difference in the overall number.

Advertisement

Research by reproductive health think-tank Guttmacher Institute found that the most restrictive countries in the world see 37 abortions per 1,000 pregnancies, while the least restrictive record 34 per 1,000 (pdf, p. 4). In other words, abortion bans don’t curb abortions; they only eliminate the safest options. Further, the states and countries that present more challenges to abortion access typically offer lower access to contraception and sexual education, resulting in higher rates of unwanted pregnancies, and greater need for abortion services.

Where abortions are increasing

The fact that curbing access doesn’t actually reduce the overall number of abortions reveals itself in the increased amount of procedures in other states. Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina all have seen large increases in abortions post-Dobbs, combining for nearly 3,000 more recorded abortions per month since the decision. This is likely because people who live in nearby states like Texas and Tennessee and have the means to travel are seeking abortions in states with fewer restrictions.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.