In a study released last month, the University of California Davis, in partnership with Washington State University, found that “nearly 42% of U.S. women of reproductive age have to drive 30 minutes or more to reach an abortion care facility.”

Additionally, the study calculated that the percentage of individuals of reproductive age could rise, alongside the time necessary to reach a facility, if certain state-by-state restrictions were passed.

Locations of physical abortion clinics (black squares), with 30-, 60-, 90-minute driving distance based on current and projected abortion restrictions. 

The study found the percentage of women aged 15-49 years with access to an abortion clinic within 30 minutes:

  • Arizona – 68.9%
  • Colorado – 82.8%
  • Idaho – 7.7%
  • Iowa – 38.7%
  • Montana – 42.6%
  • Nebraska – 63.1%
  • New Mexico – 56.2%
  • Texas – 1.7%
  • Wyoming – 1.4%

The study argued that the necessity for an individual to travel long distances to receive abortion care, coupled with fear of legal action taken against them upon their return home, are factors that should inform decisions about abortion policy

In June and July of 2022, state legislatures nationwide were faced with rapidly changing and adapting their abortion policies after the historic Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade and asserted that the U.S. Constitution did not protect the right to an abortion.

A year later, the trend of increased travel to states with abortion access and reproductive health services is rapidly becoming the reality that was predicted by doctors and reproductive health advocates alike.

State-by-state responses to the U.S. Supreme Court decision have varied, leaving abortion access available to different degrees in different states.

While an individual could make the journey to another state to receive treatment, it is unclear legally if they would be prosecuted for doing so.

The geospatial analysis study pays particular attention to Idaho. “Though many states have discussed restricting travel across state lines for abortion, currently only Idaho has passed laws against those transporting patients younger than age 18 years for abortion care outside of Idaho,” the study notes. “Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other organizations are currently assisting patients with overcoming these challenges, and more focused attention on this aspect of care could help address these inequities.”

Colorado passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) in 2022 to include provisions against interference by other states in providing or receiving abortions. In April of 2023, Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) signed a bill that barred Colorado courts or judicial officers from issuing subpoenas in connection to a case or proceeding against an individual in another state who receives an abortion or gender-affirming treatment in Colorado.

“Before the Dobbs decision, approximately 10% of patients traveled out of state for abortion care. With new restrictions, these numbers have increased to 15%,” the study writes, noting the limitations and the signs of these numbers changing and increasing in the future. “Though the most up-to-date information available was used in this study, this is subject to change with pending court rulings and as new legislation is proposed and possibly implemented.”

As time passes and legislature changes as a result of Dobbs, the landscape of abortion access in the United States continues to change.