A protester attends a June 24, 2022, rally against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Photo by Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance
In the year since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, procedures in Arizona have plummeted as much as 80%, even as nationwide numbers have increased.
The latest report from the Society of Family Planning, a Colorado-based research group focused on contraception and abortion care, found that abortions nationwide increased by 2,000 more monthly procedures than occurred before the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling. But Arizonans suffered a drastic loss in access that has not yet been fully restored.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
On June 24, 2022, the Dobbs decision was issued, kickstarting months of whiplash for women in the Grand Canyon State, as a Civil War-era near-total ban became relevant once more and Arizona’s nine abortion clinics shuttered and reopened in response to court rulings. The state swung between two bans: one passed in 2022 that prohibits all abortions beyond 15 weeks except in life threatening cases, and another from 1864 that barred all procedures except those required to save the woman’s life.
Eventually, a December ruling from the state’s appeals court settled the legal turmoil by upholding the 2022 law over the one from 1864.
The negative impact of the Dobbs decision on Arizonans seeking reproductive health care was immediately felt. While 1,170 abortions were performed in June 2022, in July the procedural count plunged to just 210, less than a third of the previous month’s total, according to the Society of Family Planning’s estimates.
And for months afterward, the number of abortions remained under 1,000 — a significant departure from previous years, when procedures regularly exceeded that mark. In the 12-month period examined by the Society of Family Planning, from June of 2022 through June of 2023, the organization estimated that as many as 6,550 procedures were forfeited in Arizona because of restrictions and narrowed access.
Only since January of this year have abortion procedures begun to approach totals similar to previous years. It’s unclear, however, how much of that demand is from in-state. The Arizona Department of Health Services doesn’t expect to complete the state’s annual abortion report for 2022, which tracks the residency of abortion patients along with other characteristics like gestational weeks and patient age, until December.
But initial reports and anecdotes suggest that states with some access are receiving higher rates of out-of-state demand, especially if they border states with laws hostile to abortion. In the southwest, Texas and Arizona are among the most impacted, with the Lone Star State experiencing an even worse outlook. Texas abortions numbered 2,600 in June 2022 and 70 the next month, with procedures plummeting even further in subsequent months to less than 10 per month. By contrast, states with robust protections saw surges in demand. Providers in California and New Mexico both performed over 8,000 more abortions than before the Dobbs ruling came down.
The high court’s decision to claw back the constitutional right to abortion from women across the country came as demand for the procedure was increasing. A combination of economic straits and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a greater interest in avoiding pregnancy. The national abortion rate grew by 7% from 2017 through 2020. And in Arizona, demand for the procedure has been particularly and consistently high. Annual abortions in Arizona haven’t fallen below 13,000 since 2011.
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.