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Oregon abortions up 18% after Roe v. Wade overturned, according to new data

A file photo from an Aug. 25, 2022, event at which Gov. Kate Brown reaffirmed Oregon's abortion access laws. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, prompting near-total abortion bans in Idaho and other states, abortion procedures in Oregon have climbed by 18% according to new data.
Kristyna Wentz-Graff
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OPB
A file photo from an Aug. 25, 2022, event at which Gov. Kate Brown reaffirmed Oregon's abortion access laws. Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, prompting near-total abortion bans in Idaho and other states, abortion procedures in Oregon have climbed by 18% according to new data.

The number of abortions per month in Oregon went up by 18% in August, after the Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Providers say they're seeing many more patients from states with increased abortion restrictions.

Abortion remains legal without restrictions in Oregon, and providers have been anecdotally reporting an increase in travelers.

Now there’s data documenting that change, from a national effort called, #Wecount. Led by the Society of Family Planning, it is gathering data from clinicians and tracking changes to abortion nationwide.

The data compares the number of abortions performed in April, before the high court’s decision, to July and August, just after it.

In the Pacific Northwest, the greatest changes occurred between April and August, when a near total ban on abortion went into effect in Idaho. That month, there was a 48% decrease in abortions in Idaho, amounting to 70 fewer abortions. In Oregon over that time period there was an 18% increase in abortions, or 150 more. In Washington, there was a 5% increase in abortions, or 90 more.

Alyssa Colwill, the director of family planning clinical services at Oregon Health & Sciences University, says anecdotally, the majority of patients traveling for abortion are coming from Idaho, but she’s also seen patients from Texas, Wisconsin and other states.

Colwill says women who need to leave their home state for an abortion face steep obstacles. Appointments can be hard to schedule, and many patients are struggling with the cost of travel on top of the cost of an abortion.

A patient from Idaho she saw last month drove eight hours to get to her appointment, and lived in her car for three days during the appointment and follow up visits.

“She had come with her 3-year-old, with her partner,” Colwill said. “The only way for them to access abortion is to literally pack up their life in their car.”

Colwill added, “I don’t think that this is an exception.”

Eastern Oregon residents who used to have access to abortion at Planned Parenthood in Boise have also been impacted by Idaho’s ban and now have to travel 350 miles to the closest provider.

OHSU has expanded its telehealth abortion options, increased the number of spots available in its clinic, and expanded the amount of operating room time for abortions to help manage the surge in demand.

The teaching hospital is also providing rural health care providers new training on contraception, abortion, and miscarriage management, to reduce disparities in access to family planning within the state.

Nationwide, the number of legal abortions dropped by 6% following the Dobbs decision, according to the data shared by #WeCount.

Research has shown that women who seek an abortion and can’t get one are more likely to live in poverty and more likely to continue to be exposed to domestic violence than women who do obtain abortions.

The data includes abortions provided by clinics, private medical offices, hospitals, and virtual-only providers in the U.S. known to offer abortion care. The majority, 79%, of known providers agreed to participate.

The data does not reflect any self-managed abortions.

Copyright 2022 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Amelia Templeton is a multimedia reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting, covering Portland city hall, justice and local news. She was previously a reporter for EarthFix, an award-winning public media project covering the environment in the Northwest.