66 abortion clinics shut in US since court ruling: report
Abortion rights activists protest outside the US Supreme Court on June 30, 2022, days after it overturned the nationwide right to abortion

At least 66 clinics in 15 US states have stopped performing abortions since the June Supreme Court ruling that overturned the constitutional right to the procedure, according to a report published on Thursday.

The Guttmacher Institute, a group which supports abortion rights, said there had previously been 79 clinics offering abortions in the 15 states which have implemented strict abortion bans.

That number has since fallen to 13 clinics, all of them in Georgia, which has banned abortion after six weeks of gestation, before many people even know they are pregnant, it said.

The institute said 26 clinics in the 15 states have closed their doors entirely, while 40 remain open providing reproductive health services other than abortion.

The Guttmacher Institute said the 15 states are home to nearly 22 million girls and women of reproductive age -- between the ages of 15 and 49 -- nearly one-third of the total US population of women of reproductive age.

The institute said more than 125,000 abortions were performed in 2020 in the 14 states where abortion is no longer available at all and another 41,000 in Georgia.

"Individuals who can no longer obtain an abortion from a clinic in these states are now forced to travel to another state for abortion care," Guttmacher said.

This extra step to access the procedure can impose travel and child care costs along with those associated with having to take time off work, it said, while some women are instead forced to continue their pregnancy.

Meanwhile, states where abortion remains legal "are being inundated with people from states with abortion bans seeking care," the report said.

"These dramatic increases in caseloads mean clinic capacity and staff are stretched to their limits, resulting in longer wait times for appointments even for residents of states where abortion remains legal," it said.

The institute predicted that the "already precarious abortion access landscape is likely to continue to deteriorate" with a total of 26 states certain or likely to impose near-total abortion bans within a year.

© 2022 AFP