Changes in travel, psychosocial burden and adverse mental health among people seeking abortion pre- and post-Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health
Awarded 2024
Traveling to abortion care, post-Dobbs
M. Antonia Biggs, PhD
University of California, San Francisco

Background: Since the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health decision, more people travel across state lines to access facility-based abortion care. However, interstate travel can come at an emotional and financial cost, disproportionately affecting the most structurally oppressed and marginalized individuals. As part of our 2019 pre-Dobbs Burden Study, we documented how psychosocial burden accessing facility-based abortion care (i.e. structural challenges, reduced autonomy, pregnancy decision-making, concerns about other people’s reactions), unwanted disclosure about the abortion decision due to travel, and delay-causing obstacles, were associated with poorer mental health [1–5]. The proposed study will leverage existing pre-Dobbs data to document changes since Dobbs in these key psychosocial outcomes and explore whether social location is associated with differential changes in study outcomes.
Methods: Using a pre-post comparison group design, we will build on pre-Dobbs Burden Study data (N=784) and recruit an additional 800 post-Dobbs patients (total N>~1,500) seeking abortion from five clinics in California, Illinois and New Mexico. We will use multivariable regression analyses with group (instate vs out-of-state) by time (pre-Dobbs vs post Dobbs) as the primary independent variable to document changes in travel, psychosocial burden, adverse mental health, and other outcomes since Dobbs.
Conclusions: This study will contribute novel and robust quantitative evidence on the psychosocial impact of interstate travel for abortion care due to Dobbs. Findings will inform strategies to facilitate access to abortion care among people who need to travel and support future qualitative work to explore more deeply people’s travel experiences and support people’s psychological and emotional well-being.