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More than a quarter of abortion clinics could close if Roe v. Wade is struck down, study finds

Awaiting Supreme Court's decision on abortion
What to expect as the Supreme Court considers abortion case challenging Roe v. Wade 05:40

More than a quarter of the nearly 800 abortion clinics in the U.S. would quickly shut down if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, according to newly released research.

The nation's highest court is expected to issue a decision by the end of the month on whether to upend 50 years of legal precedent guaranteeing the right to abortion in the U.S. A draft opinion signaling that the top court intends to overrule federal protections for the procedure was leaked by Politico in early May.

Should Roe be overturned, about a dozen states have "trigger laws" that would immediately outlaw abortion, closing an estimated 202 clinics across the country, according to a study from the University of California San Francisco's Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, or ANSIRH. 

Such a scenario is "particularly decimating abortion access for pregnant people living in the South and Midwest where most of these closures would occur," the report stated. 

Additional restrictions would likely follow, with some abortion facilities ending or curtailing operations in advance of the ruling. 

Report finds abortions have increased across the U.S. since 2017 04:45

There were 790 abortion clinics operating in the U.S. in 2021, an increase from 774 in 2017, the study found. The increase included 32 virtual telehealth clinics that offer prescriptions for medication abortions, which rely on pills to terminate a pregnancy instead of surgery.

Guidelines enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed abortion pills to be mailed, making it the country's most common means of terminating a pregnancy. However, telehealth for abortion is banned in 19 states, the researchers noted. 

The huge geographical divergences in where clinics are located are expected to increase if Roe is overturned. In the Southern states, for instance, clinics serve almost three times the population size than clinics in the Northeast.

California, Florida and New York currently have the most clinics. But attorneys for Florida are fighting an attempt to block a 15-week abortion limit slated to take effect July 1. The 15-week restriction is similar to a Mississippi law now being considered by the Supreme Court. 

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