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New Laws, Fewer Clinics Have Women Going Out of State for Abortions

Missouri women account for half the procedures in Kansas
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 8, 2019 12:35 PM CDT
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Hevan Lunsford with ultrasounds and footprints and handprints of her son, in Prattville, Alabama. She found out when she was five months pregnant that the baby had only half of a heart. Lunsford said she felt the only way to ensure her son would not suffer would be to end the pregnancy and was told...   (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

(Newser) – Thousands of women have crossed state lines for an abortion in recent years as states have passed ever-stricter laws and the number of clinics has declined. Although abortion opponents say the laws are intended to reduce abortions and not send people to other states, at least 276,000 women terminated their pregnancies outside their home state between 2012 and 2017, according to an AP analysis of data from states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New Mexico, the number of women from out of state who had abortions more than doubled, while Missouri women received nearly half the abortions performed in Kansas. Abortions across the US are down, but the share of women who had abortions out of state rose a half-percentage point, and certain states had notable increases over the six-year period, according to AP's analysis.

"In many places, the right to abortion exists on paper, but the ability to access it is almost impossible," said the CEO of a company with clinics in five states. A Missouri anti-abortion lobbyist said: "I have been insistent in telling my pro-life colleagues that's all well and good if the last abortion clinic shuts down, but it's no victory if women end up driving 10 minutes across the river to Granite City, Illinois, or to Fairview Heights." Hevan Lunsford, a nurse in Alabama, was five months pregnant when she learned her fetus was severely underdeveloped and had only half of a heart. She was told the boy would need care to ease his pain and several surgeries. He may not live long, she and her husband were told. Devastated, Lunsford asked about ending the pregnancy. Alabama prohibits abortions after five months; her doctor handed Lunsford a paper with information for a clinic in Atlanta, a 180-mile drive. "The procedure itself was probably the least traumatic part of it," Lunsford said. "Most of the laws I navigated, there was no reason for them. None of them prevented my abortion. It just made it where I had to travel out of state."

(Read more anti-abortion laws stories.)

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