More people traveling to Massachusetts for abortion care

September 19, 2023 – In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson overturned the constitutional right to abortion, leading many states to pass laws that restricted abortion access. In the months following the decision, more people traveled to Massachusetts—a state with few restrictions—to access abortion care, according to a study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, and Harvard Medical School.

“It was hard to predict before Dobbs what the impact would be, in part because the Dobbs decision affected such a large number of people,” said study author Elizabeth Janiak, assistant professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, in a September 6 Boston Globe article. “It’s been 50 years since we’ve had this number of people in the US not have access. How people would decide where to go was an open question.”

The researchers looked at the number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood clinics in Massachusetts from July to October 2022. They found that the overall number of abortions increased by 6.2%. In particular, the number of out-of-state patients was 37.5% higher than expected. Furthermore, the out-of-state patients received more financial help from charitable organizations than before the court decision.

“Even though there’s been a surge of people wanting to support this care, there is a huge surge in need,” Janiak said.

Other Harvard Chan School researchers involved with the study were Brianna Keefe-Oates, PhD candidate and Rose Service Learning Fellow, and Jarvis Chen, senior lecturer on social and behavioral sciences.

Read the Boston Globe article: Number of out-of-state travelers seeking abortions at Mass. Planned Parenthood grew 37% after Dobbs

Read the study: Use of Abortion Services in Massachusetts After the Dobbs Decision Among In-State vs Out-of-State Residents