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Trends from other states show what Florida can expect with a 6-week abortion ban

In Georgia and South Carolina, a 6-week ban had a "drastic and dramatic" impact on rates
Posted at 9:15 AM, Apr 19, 2024

TAMPA, Fla. — Long considered a primary access point for abortions in the south, Florida is less than two weeks away from joining a short list of U.S. states restricting abortion care to 6 weeks.

“We don't really know what's going to happen until it actually happens,” said Dr. Robyn Schickler, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood on Florida’s west coast.

But if trends in other states are any indication, Florida is about to undergo a significant shift in the total number of formal abortions performed here.

Using data collected by the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy think tank that supports abortion rights, we looked at the numbers of total abortions performed in Georgia and South Carolina, where six-week bans are in place.

In Georgia, after its ban took effect in the summer of 2022, the number of abortions performed dropped by nearly 50% within a year, according to the Society of Family Planning, which partners with the Guttmacher Institute.

In South Carolina, which implemented its six-week ban last summer, abortions decreased by 71% in just the first month of the ban, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

“There is a dramatic and drastic impact to the provision of abortion care,” explained Candace Gibson, director of state policy for the Institute, which also found last year that one of every 3 abortions in the south and 12 nationwide occurred in the Sunshine State.

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Gibson believes Florida’s ban will be especially impactful.

“We knew that people were traveling out of state and getting care in Florida. So it will have a drastic impact on both Floridians and individual tourists who are traveling outside of the state,” she said about the upcoming ban.

Abortion rights advocates are expecting Floridians to flood other states for care or resort to help outside the formal healthcare system.

“It's really hard for people to access care in a six-week period. That's the goal of the politicians who passed this,” said Amy Weintraub, Reproductive Rights Program Director with Progress Florida.

“So those folks are going to have to travel to other states, or they're going to find other ways to end an unintended pregnancy, and that could be by pills by mail or other ways,” Weintraub said.

But even if Florida’s new restrictions lower the number of abortions performed in the state, Dr. Schickler, who also works as an abortion doctor in Florida, shares what she believes a six-week ban won’t do.

“It doesn't stop abortions. It certainly restricts safer abortion, but it doesn't stop them,” she said.

In a study released last month, the Guttmacher Institute found that despite more states restricting abortions or banning them altogether, the number of formal abortions nationwide actually increased last year by 10% since 2020.

Schickler said Planned Parenthood officers in Florida are working with providers in other states to streamline what they expect will be a deluge of Florida women seeking abortion care.

For now, she and her team are working overtime and expanding office hours to try and serve as many patients as they can over the next few weeks before Florida’s new ban makes it almost impossible to do.

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