Unequal Access to Abortion

By OBOS Abortion Contributors | April 1, 2014

Although abortion has been legal in all states since 1973, accessibility depends on which state you live in, how far away you are from a provider, how much money you have or what your insurance will cover, and how far along you are in your pregnancy.

As of 2011, 89 percent of U.S. counties had no abortion provider.

Most abortions are provided by freestanding clinics. Some specialize in abortion exclusively, while others provide a range of reproductive health care services. Fewer than 5 percent of abortions are performed in hospitals. Over the past years, the number of hospitals providing abortions has decreased — from 1,405 in 1982 to only 595 in 2011.

While only a small number of abortions are performed in hospitals, the impact of the decrease is greatest on women in rural areas, low-income women who depend on hospitals for health care, and women whose health requires hospital services. It also reduces the opportunities for training new health care providers to perform abortions.

For a look at the effects of decreasing abortion access, the real causes of disparities in rates of unintended pregnancy, and strategies to address them, see “Abortion Disparities in Context” by Christine Dehlendorf.