Since it became clear that the constitutional right to this medical care was under danger, proponents of reproductive justice have been concerned about “abortion-access deserts,” or significant regions of the country where abortions are prohibited. A recent study is giving this perilous phenomena a numerical value.
As background: Only 14.6% of women lived that far from a clinic prior to the devastating Roe v. Wade decision earlier this year. Previously, the average journey time was under 30 minutes; today, it takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Researchers used census data from almost 64 million women aged 15 to 44 in the continental United States and a “cross-sectional geographical study” of 749 abortion clinics countrywide to reach this conclusion. According to their findings, since state legislators have the authority to enact anti-abortion laws, travel time to abortion facilities is “substantially greater.”
The researchers concluded that “abortion facility closures resulted in a significant decline in availability to abortion treatment in the U.S.” They added that travel times to abortion centers increased significantly for Native American, Black, and Hispanic women. These groups have historically experienced higher rates of pregnancy-related death than white women.
Deserts with easy access to abortions aren’t merely a hassle. Traveling more than an hour to get medical treatment may not be feasible for some pregnant people, particularly those who are low-income, don’t have reliable access to a car, or work jobs without paid time off or sick leave.
Before Roe was overturned, anti-abortion states were already failing pregnant women, according to a study.
In June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a significant decision that had secured access to abortions across the country for more than 40 years. According to The New York Times, at least 13 states have made abortions illegal since that time.
Abortion access has emerged as a dividing issue at the state and federal levels with the 2022 midterm elections rapidly approaching. Last month, President Joe Biden pledged that if Democrats won more senatorial seats and kept the House, he would work to pass legislation protecting abortion rights.
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