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A Quarter of All Abortion Clinics Would Close in US If Roe Is Overturned

Trigger laws would immediately shut down operations in almost a dozen states

Volunteer clinic escorts wait near demonstrators outside the EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. 

Volunteer clinic escorts wait near demonstrators outside the EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. 

Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

More than a quarter of the 790 abortion clinics operating in the US would shut down if the Supreme Court overturns federal protections for abortions, according to a study released this week by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health. 

The top court’s ruling on a case overturning Roe v. Wade, which guarantees the right to an abortion in the US, is expected by the end of this month. A leaked draft of an opinion showed that court would overrule the landmark precedent. In that case, there are about a dozen states that have “trigger laws” on the books, which would immediately make abortion illegal in those places. More restrictions are expected to follow, and even ahead of the ruling clinics in some states have stopped or limited their operations. The study estimates 202 clinics would close across the country. 

The study found that, despite the legal headwinds, more clinics opened up in 2021 than closed. There were 790 clinics operating in the US last year, up from 749 in 2018. The uptick included the opening of 32 virtual telehealth clinics that provide prescriptions for medication abortions. New Covid-era guidelines made the abortion pill, for the first time, available via mail. As a result, it’s now the most common way to end a pregnancy in the US.