The Outrageous Distance Some People Have To Travel For An Abortion In The U.S.

With an ongoing battle to keep women's health centers like Planned Parenthood open, it likely comes as no shock that abortion access in the U.S. isn't exactly stellar. But new research shows that for some people, access is nearly impossible — because there isn't a safe place to get an abortion for more than a hundred miles.
Image courtesy of The Lancet.
An analysis published in The Lancet Public Health journal Tuesday looked at data on abortion clinics from 2000 to 2014 to see how far people had to travel to reach these clinics over time. In 2014, the median distance a person had to travel to get an abortion in the U.S. was just 11 miles, but that number certainly doesn't represent everyone. And an median of 11 miles for the whole country doesn't help the person who lives in a state where the nearest clinic is hundreds of miles away.
In rural areas of South Dakota, the research found, some people had to drive more than 300 miles away to terminate a pregnancy. As you can see from a map the researchers created, two other states — North Dakota and Wyoming — fall into an average distance of about 100 miles. And while there are several states in the blue area, meaning someone would have to drive less than 15 miles to access a safe abortion, there are still plenty of states where terminating a pregnancy requires a lot more than a trip across the city.
Of course, this study's look at abortion clinic access stops after 2014 and a lot can change in three years. But given continued news of closing clinics (a 2016 Texas law forced 21 clinics in the state to shut their doors and there are now seven states that have only one abortion clinic left), we're not too hopeful that those numbers have changed for the better.
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