Abortion Bans Result in 32,000 More Babies Being Born Each Year, Study Finds

The report noted significant changes in abortion access following the Supreme Court ruling.
Abortion Bans Result in 32,000 More Babies Being Born Each Year, Study Finds
Pro-life activists demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after the Court announced a ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization case in Washington on June 24, 2022. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
Frank Fang

About 32,000 additional babies are being born per year following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last year, according to an analysis.

“Our primary analysis indicates that in the first six months of 2023, births rose by an average of 2.3 percent in states enforcing total abortion bans compared to a control group of states where abortion rights remained protected, amounting to approximately 32,000 additional annual births resulting from abortion bans,” three researchers from the Georgia Insitute of Technology and Middlebury College wrote in a report published by the Institute of Labor Economics in Germany on Friday.

The researchers came to their conclusions based on monthly birth data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) starting from January 2005 to June.

The report noted significant changes in abortion access following the Supreme Court ruling.

“As of November 1, 2023, 14 states are enforcing bans on abortion in nearly all circumstances, and 23 percent of U.S. women of reproductive age have experienced an increase in driving distance to the nearest abortion facility, from an average of 43 miles one-way before Dobbs to 330 miles at present,” the researchers wrote.

“This represents the most profound transformation of the landscape of U.S. abortion access in 50 years,” they added.

The longer the driving distances to abortion clinics, the greater the increase in birth rates, according to the report.

For instance, Texas, one of the 14 states to enforce near-total bans on the procedure, saw its fertility rates increase by 5.1 percent as its driving distance to the nearest abortion clinic increased by an average of 453 miles.

Mississippi saw a 4.4 percent spike in birth rates, as the average increase in driving distance there was 240 miles after the state imposed its ban.

Meanwhile, researchers noted the availability of online abortion pills was a factor in some states with bans. Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana had increases in births that were “less than forecasted” based on driving distances, as they were also the states with the “greatest reported increase to Aid Access for medications to self-manage abortion following Dobbs.”

In the 14 states, the report estimated that about one-fifth to one-fourth of people seeking abortions did not receive one due to abortion bans.

The report also showed a sizable increase in birth rates for Hispanic women (4.7 percent) and women in their early 20s (3.3 percent). 
On Nov. 22, separate data released by the CDC showed that the number of abortions reported to the agency increased 5 percent from 2020 to 2021. The CDC data do not include numbers from California, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New Jersey.

In response to the CDC numbers, the Washington-based conservative advocacy group Family Research Council (FRC) issued a statement saying unborn children need urgent protection.

“From 2020–2021, the number of abortions increased by five percent. This means that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision giving elected officials the power to protect unborn children from abortion came at the time when unborn children’s lives were most at risk. The time to protect the unborn is now!” FRC’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, Mary Szoch, said in a statement.

“Additionally, this data shows that 56 percent of abortions occurred using the dangerous chemical abortion drug, mifepristone. While every abortion is tragic because it ends the life of an unborn child, abortions using the abortion drug, mifepristone, are especially horrific because of the great risk they pose to the mother’s health, and sometimes her life, as well,” Ms. Szoch added.

She continued, “The CDC data shows that six women and 625,978 unborn babies lost their lives from legal and induced abortion. This number is undoubtedly an underreporting. It is devastating, as each of these women and each of these babies have incalculable dignity and worth.”

Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
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