How far do you have to travel to access an abortion? Maps show new state bans : Shots - Health News How far do women have to travel to access abortion care? An economics professor has been tracking that data since 2009. Interactive maps show how access has changed dramatically since 2021.

How Florida and Arizona Supreme Court rulings change the abortion access map

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Two state Supreme Court decisions on abortion cleared the way for a near-total ban in Arizona and a ban after six weeks in Florida. Supporters of abortion rights are not happy. Here's what Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, who is a Democrat, had to say about an 1864 law that was upheld in her state.

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KATIE HOBBS: The near-total Civil War era ban that continues to hang over our heads only serves to create more chaos for women and doctors in our state.

INSKEEP: Agree with them or not, the new laws affect millions of Americans, and NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin has an exclusive report on how the bans will change abortion access.

SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN, BYLINE: To get a sense for the scale of these two new abortion bans, Caitlin Myers, an economics professor at Middlebury College, says, consider this.

CAITLIN MYERS: It's about 6 million women of reproductive age who are experiencing an increase in distance of more than 200 miles because of the bans.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Those 6 million women live mostly in Florida, but also in Arizona and neighboring states. Myers has been tracking abortion facilities and travel distances for more than a decade and did an analysis of how these bans will affect the abortion access map for NPR. She points out Floridians seeking abortions after six weeks will have to travel nearly 600 miles to North Carolina, which has a 72-hour waiting period.

MYERS: So we're talking about a day's drive to a state that requires you to engage in this multi-day process. A lot of people might end up going several hundred miles further to Virginia.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: For people in Arizona, after the total ban there takes effect...

MYERS: Their nearest destinations are pretty long drives, right? They're going to be facing, you know, hundreds of miles to reach Southern California, New Mexico, Colorado.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Npr.org has maps showing how travel distances to abortion providers for each U.S. county will change once these laws take effect. Both Florida and Arizona are historically purple states. Both have had 15-week abortion bans since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. But there have been many times more abortions in Florida and more than one in 10 of them were people traveling in from out of state. So Florida's ban...

MYERS: It's going to affect distances for many people of reproductive age in Alabama and Georgia and Louisiana and Mississippi who previously were seeking abortions in Florida.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: There are a few ways people in these states will still be able to access abortion without driving hundreds of miles. In Florida, some people will be able to get in before the six-week limit, although that's only about two weeks after a missed period. Those who can afford to can fly to states where abortion access is protected.

MYERS: I also think we're likely to see an increase in demand for telehealth abortions.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: That's where patients connect with doctors over video or chat and receive abortion medication in the mail, a practice that could be curtailed depending on how the Supreme Court rules in a pending case. Law professor Mary Ziegler of UC Davis says it's worth noting how these states both came to have new bans.

MARY ZIEGLER: The common denominator is conservative state supreme courts reaching decisions contrary to what voters would want. Interestingly, in an election year when those judges are facing retention elections.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: And an election year where abortion is on the ballot in Florida and there's an effort to get it on the ballot in Arizona, too. Abortion rights opponents in those states have pledged to fight against the measures.

Selena Simmons-Duffin, NPR News.

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