How Far Do Women Have to Travel to Get an Abortion?


Map of US showing median distance to the nearest abortion provider by county, 2014.

Abortion is a common experience for women across the United States. According to the Guttmacher Institute, about one in four women will have an abortion by the age of 45 in the U.S. Access to this care can be affected by a variety of factors, including state laws and policies, socioeconomic status, and geography.

As shown in the map above, women who want to have an abortion performed in the middle of the country must travel much farther than women living on the coasts to reach a provider. The red areas indicate that women seeking an abortion must travel 180 miles or more. These areas in the middle of the country tend to be rural, with abortion clinics being concentrated in urban settings. Pink areas can also indicate long travel times that range from 90 minutes to three hours.

The distance needed to travel varies across the country, but it can also vary greatly within a state. In Alaska, about 50% of the women are just over nine miles away from an abortion provider, but 20% must travel over 150 miles to access care. Traveling these long distances can be impossible for women who cannot take time off from work or afford the transportation costs.

Some states that have implemented abortion restrictions in recent years have increased the distance women must travel. In Texas, 20% of women have had their travel distance to the nearest abortion provider increase by about 56 miles. Other states where distance and travel times have increased include Iowa, Montana and Missouri.

Databyte via Jonathan M Bearak, Kristen Lagasse Burke, and Rachel K Jones, Disparities and Change Over Time in Distance Women Would Need to Travel to Have an Abortion in the USA: a Spatial Analysis. The Lancet.