Washington has become ‘safe haven for people seeking abortions,’ study finds

May 31, 2024, 5:00 AM

Photo: People hold signs and cheer during a protest and rally for abortion rights, Saturday, May 14...

People hold signs and cheer during a protest and rally for abortion rights, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

(Photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

A new study, published in JAMA Network Open this week, has found that since the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, Washington has seen a 50% increase in out-of-state patients seeking abortions. (A PDF of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs opinion can be viewed here.)

UW Medicine stated the study tracked the number of abortions performed at the Cedar River Clinics, a network of care sites in Washington, both before and after the 2022 Dobbs decision. Researchers reviewed numbers from Jan. 1, 2017, to June 23, 2022, and compared the totals with June 24, 2022, to July 31, 2023 numbers.

The study found there was a total of 18,379 abortions from January 1, 2017, to July 31, 2023. Out of those abortions, 3,378 occurred after the Dobbs decision.

Of those out-of-state patients, 27% are from Texas, 26% are from Alaska and the rest are largely from Idaho, Louisiana and Florida, according to a news release from UW Medicine. Before Dobbs, 52% of out-of-state abortions were from Alaska, 9% from Montana, 8% from Idaho, 6% from Oregon and 6% from Texas

Washington abortion numbers: Patients traveling from Idaho surge

Of the patients the study followed 31% were white, 23% were Black, 14% were Hispanic, and 13% were Asian.

Study also found delays in care for abortion patients

The study also found an average one-week delay in care for all abortion patients. Those who experienced a significant delay included Latina, white and Black individuals.

“While a week delay does not sound significant, any delays in receiving abortion care are problematic because it adversely affects the health of the pregnant person,” UW Medicine family medicine doctor,  OB-GYN and the paper’s senior author Dr. Emily Godfrey stated, according to UW Medicine.

The study’s lead author and UW graduate student in the Department of Epidemiology Taylor Riley added that delays could lead to larger issues.

“This has concerning health and economic implications because delayed abortion care is associated with increased risk of complications and negative mental health impacts, and later abortion care is more expensive,” she said, as reported by UW Medicine.

Washington insurance: Health plan prices may rise; new rule set to begin

Washington allows abortions up to the point of fetal viability or to protect the health of the pregnant individual. Researchers found post-Dobbs, more abortion patients sought procedural abortions, instead of medication, to ensure they were not pregnant with 100% certainty.

UW Medicine cited the study which found Washington has become “a safe haven for people seeking abortions.” Riley added this could lead to expanding the number of abortion-providing centers and strengthening existing abortion care services within the state.

The University of Washington Population Health Initiative funded the study. Godfrey noted next steps would be to gather information from more clinics.

“The next step is to include more abortion facilities in this study to confirm our findings so that we can continue to provide critical information needed to effectively address health disparities related to abortion care in Washington state,” she said, according to UW Medicine.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

MyNorthwest News

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

7 hours ago

Image: A Bellingham Police Department vehicle is seen on a city street in 2015....

Julia Dallas

Bellingham sixth grader allegedly punched by man in racist attack

A Bellingham 6th-grader was allegedly attacked by a man who was spewing racist comments during a school field trip on Wednesday.

7 hours ago

Photo: Starting this fall, students at Seattle's Hamilton International Middle School will have to ...

Julia Dallas

Seattle school to say goodbye to cell phones in the fall

Starting this fall, students at Seattle's Hamilton International Middle School will have to lock up their cell phones during school hours.

11 hours ago

Image: A dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is displayed at the Neighborcare Health cli...

Sam Campbell and Steve Coogan

Measles case reported at West Seattle clinic; know the symptoms

A child, now confirmed to have measles, went to the Franciscan Health Urgent Care clinic in West Seattle, officials said in a release Friday.

12 hours ago

Image: The Supreme Court building can be seen from a distance on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Washin...

Associated Press

Supreme Court strikes down Trump-era ban on bump stocks, gun accessory

The Supreme Court has struck down a ban on bump stocks, an accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns.

17 hours ago

Image: A multi-vehicle collision including a semitruck on Interstate 5 in Fife slowed down traffic ...

Steve Coogan

1 killed in multi-vehicle crash on I-5 south in Fife; morning traffic affected

The Washington State Patrol is on the scene of a deadly multi-vehicle crash that occurred on I-5 south in Pierce County early Friday.

18 hours ago

Washington has become ‘safe haven for people seeking abortions,’ study finds