The Look in Brief

National study reports decline in abortions following Dobbs decision

By: - November 2, 2022 6:01 am
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 24: People protest in response to the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Court's decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case and erases a federal right to an abortion. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 24: People protest in response to the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case and erases a federal right to an abortion. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

A new national study has tracked the precipitous decline in the number of abortions performed in many states — including Tennessee — in the weeks and months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

In Tennessee, approximately 1,180 abortions were performed in April 2022. By July the number had dropped to 280; in August, there were 260.

The data comes from WeCount, a new data tracking effort launched by the Society of Family Planning. WeCount developed its own database of clinics, private medical offices, hospitals and virtual-only providers then surveyed them for its results.

The numbers reflect the effects of swift changes in Tennessee law following the June 24 Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which left to each state the authority to regulate, restrict or ban abortion.

On June 28, a six-week abortion law took effect in Tennessee, ending abortion access for patients with more advanced pregnancies. Then, on Aug. 25, a full ban on all abortions in Tennessee was in place.  Clinics that once provided abortion ceased offering it entirely.

The data compiled by the organization also illustrates how neighboring states with laws preserving abortion access saw upticks in the number of procedures provided. North Carolina on Tennessee’s northeastern border saw a 37% increase in the number of abortions provided between April and August;  Illinois, where abortion clinics are located about a three-hour drive from Memphis and Nashville, saw a 28% surge in the number of abortions sought during that time period.

The study did not track whether, or where, Tennessee women travelled out of state for abortions.

Nationally, the study concludes that abortions declined 6% overall between April and August. The decline was more pronounced in the Southeast, where the research estimated the number of abortions declined by 96% between April and August. In total, that represents a drop from 6,810 abortions in April (in the region that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas) to 270 in August.

The full report is here.

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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee. She is a graduate of Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism. Wadhwani lives in Nashville with her partner and two children.

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