Some women must travel substantial distances in order to access abortion services, and this can present a barrier to care. This study assesses how far abortion patients traveled to a provider in 2008 and which groups were more likely to travel farther.
We used data from a national sample of 8,338 abortion patients to estimate how far women traveled to get to the facility where they obtained their abortion. Chi-square tests and ordered logistic regression were used to assess associations and proportional odds of distance traveled according to a number of situational and demographic characteristics.
In 2008, women traveled a mean distance of 30 miles for abortion care services, with a median of 15 miles. Sixty-seven percent of patients traveled less than 25 miles, and six percent traveled more than 100 miles. Controlling for other factors, women who lived in a state with a 24-hour waiting period, women obtaining second trimester abortions, those who crossed state lines, and, in particular, rural women were more likely to travel greater distances relative to their counterparts. Women of color were less likely to travel long distances compared to non-Hispanic white women.
This study serves as a baseline as, since 2008, a number of states have introduced restrictive legislation that may make it necessary for women to travel even farther and may also prevent more vulnerable groups from accessing services altogether.