Traveling from banned states for first trimester abortion care: The role of legislative restrictions on quality care
Awarded 2024
Traveling to abortion care, post-Dobbs
Emily Godfrey, MD, MPH
University of Washington

This 18-month mixed methods study generates essential evidence on the service preferences and information needs of people who leave banned or restricted states to seek abortion in legal states. Since the US Supreme Court Dobbs decision, more than 20 US states ban or severely restrict abortion care. Consequently, about 1 in 5 seeking abortion travel across state lines, impeding access to timely and affordable care. Understanding the decision-making, journeys and care received by out-of-state patients seeking in-person care in legal states is urgently needed to improve equitable access to abortion. This study answers two questions: (1) Among those from banned/restricted states, how do sociodemographic characteristics quantitatively compare between patients who travel out-of-state to seek in-person care and those who remain in banned or restricted states and use telehealth services?; and (2) Among English- and Spanish-speaking persons traveling from banned states to Washington or Kansas for abortion services, what are their qualitative experiences in accessing care and how does their social location influence their journey? Our research methods are guided by constructivist grounded theory and follow an intersectional approach. We partner with three clinics providing first-trimester abortion care (two brick-and-mortar and one virtual), engage a diverse 6-person Community Advisory Board, and include building qualitative research capacity for persons from underrepresented communities. Our findings create evidence that can be used for patient-facing decision-making tools for persons living in areas with poor abortion access. This proposal aligns with SFP’s goal of generating evidence with clinical, health service delivery and policy implications.