Study: Abortions in Minnesota increased after post-Roe restrictions in other states

People speak during a large rally outside.
A woman holds a sign reading “Abortion is Healthcare” during an abortion rights march and protest at the Minnesota State Capitol.
Tim Evans for MPR News | 2022

A new report finds that abortions in Minnesota have increased since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision last year that overturned Roe v. Wade.

In the wake of that June 2022 ruling that left abortion policies up to individual states, some states have enacted abortion restrictions and bans. Others — including Minnesota — have passed laws guaranteeing the right to abortion and protecting people coming from out-of-state for reproductive care.

The new study comes from The Society of Family Planning, a health research organization.

The study found that the average number of abortions each month in Minnesota rose about 36 percent, when comparing the two months before the Dobbs decision with the 12 months after.

It’s another indicator that more patients are coming to Minnesota from out of state for their procedures.

As neighboring states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa — have passed laws restricting or banning abortion, Minnesota has become an island for abortion access.

Planned Parenthood North Central States wrote in a statement to MPR News that the organization has been adapting to the increase in state-to-state travel for care.

“It’s an unfortunate reality that more and more patients must travel to Minnesota since Roe was overturned. When abortion bans are passed, everyone is hurt as access to other care is limited,” the organization said.

The Minnesota Department of Health also reported earlier this year that abortions were on the rise in the state, due in part to out-of-state patients traveling to Minnesota for care.

The Society of Family Planning noted that the total number of abortions nationwide increased slightly in the year after the Dobbs decision, even though that ruling allowed states to ban abortion. States with restrictions saw decreases, but states that still allow access, like Minnesota, have seen an uptick.

“The Dobbs decision turned abortion access in this country upside down,” Alison Norris, a co-chair for the study, known as WeCount, and a professor at The Ohio State University's College of Public Health, said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

“The fact that abortions increased overall in the past year shows what happens when abortion access is improved, and some previously unmet need for abortion is met." But she noted that bans make access harder — and sometimes impossible — for some people.

Meanwhile, an anti-abortion group celebrated that the number of abortions in states with the tightest restrictions declined by nearly 115,000.

“WeCount’s report confirms pro-life protections in states are having a positive impact,” Tessa Longbons, a senior researcher for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, said in a statement.

Abortion bans and restrictions are consistently met with court challenges, and judges have put some of them on hold.

Currently, laws are being enforced in 14 states that bar abortion throughout pregnancy, with limited exceptions, and two more that ban it after cardiac activity can be detected — usually around six weeks of gestational age and before many people realize they’re pregnant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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