CORE researchers predict fewer abortions and more births in Wisconsin post-Roe

New research from CORE investigator Jason Fletcher and CORE alumna Joanna Venator estimates a decline in abortions and an increase in births in Wisconsin counties most affected by the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Previously, Fletcher and Venator analyzed how clinic closures in Green Bay and Appleton in 2013 and 2017 affected Wisconsinites’ travel distances to abortion care. This prior CORE research showed the impacts of these closures on travel distance varied widely across counties. They found that a 100-mile increase in distance to the nearest clinic was associated with a 30% reduction in abortions and a 3% increase in births in Wisconsin.

Using these findings, the team updated its research based on a post-Roe Wisconsin. On June 24, 2022, the remaining abortion clinics in Wisconsin ceased abortion services in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision. The investigators documented that 42 out of 72 Wisconsin counties have experienced an average increase of 82 miles to the nearest abortion clinic. Milwaukee and Dane counties have experienced 70 and 120-mile increases respectively. Residents in Milwaukee and Dane counties represented 56% of Wisconsin abortion patients in 2020.

The researchers predict at least a 20% reduction in abortion across Wisconsin, including 20% in Milwaukee and 30% in Dane, Brown, Columbia, and Manitowoc counties. They further predict a 2 to 4% increase in the number of births in Wisconsin, with the largest increases in Columbia and Dane counties.

These estimates are likely conservative. Abortion providers in bordering states are experiencing long wait times due to an influx of patients from restricted states. Wait times and costs will make abortion out of research for some Wisconsinites. Others may fear legal risks for traveling for abortion care. Furthermore, low-income individuals will be less likely to raise funds to cross state lines. Additionally, the loss of abortion clinics in Milwaukee means that Wisconsin’s largest Black community will be disproportionately impacted.

Without clinical abortion services in Wisconsin, abortion will be inaccessible to thousands of Wisconsinites, which will increase full-term pregnancies and births. Research has shown major negative health and wellbeing consequences for those unable to obtain abortion care.

Read the brief here,