A new working paper from Theodore Joyce, Yuxiu Zhang and Ruoding Tan helps explain why. The paper explores what would change about abortion access if Roe were to be overturned and the issue of legal abortion returned to the states.
Women would face more obstacles to terminate a pregnancy; the average distance traveled by women obtaining abortions would increase 157 miles among 31 states expected to outlaw the procedure. Overturning
Roe, however, would by no means eliminate abortion. Even in a situation where 31 states banned legal abortion, the national abortion rate would only fall 14.9 percent.
The expectation is that, in a post-Roe world, the more liberal states, like New York and California, would continue to offer legal access — just as they did prior to the Roe decision. Most of the south and large swaths of the Midwest, however, would likely ban the procedure.
Women in those states would likely still seek abortion services in states where they were accessible. That’s what happened pre-Roe in a state like Michigan, where abortion was illegal. Women traveled out of state and, as a result, had 7.6 abortions per 1,000 women performed in New York state.
The trouble is that a Republican administration that succeeded in getting Roe overturned would very likely seek to ban abortion at the federal level rather than leaving the decision up to individual states. And all of the politicians that claim to support states’ rights and federalism and whatnot would vote for it, just like they voted to pass the Defense of Marriage Act.