One-third of abortion patients travel more than 25 miles to get the procedure

That’s according to a new Guttmacher Institute analysis.

The survey, of data from 2008, found that 67 percent of abortion patients traveled less than 25 miles, 16 percent traveled 25–49 miles, 11 percent traveled 50–100 miles and 6 percent traveled more than 100 miles. The average distance traveled was 30 miles. Unsurprisingly, those seeking second-trimester abortions–which are offered by  two-thirds of U.S. abortion providers–often ended up going farther.

To an urbanite like me, those seem like ridiculously long distances to travel. But, as Guttmacher explains, folks who live in rural areas often have to travel greater distances for many services–not just abortion. That’s why efforts to expand telemedicine health care–including abortion services–could be a real game-changer for rural dwellers–particularly low-income folks who don’t have access to a car. And that’s likely why anti-choicers have been so quick to launch a coordinated attack on the new technology.

But it’s not just the geography of abortion access that leads to long travel times. The survey found that people who lived in a state with a 24-hour waiting period were more than twice as likely to travel greater distances as those in states with no waiting period requirement. And this survey doesn’t even include folks who weren’t able to get an abortion at all due to these barriers. In short, anti-choice laws do what they’re intended to do: make it more difficult for people to get the reproductive health care they need.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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