Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, abortion vacations have been on the rise. For those unfamiliar, an abortion vacation is when a pregnant woman travels to where an abortion is legal. Many times this may include being provided lodging or other accommodations from either the state she travels to and/or her employer.
In the US, the concept of traveling for an abortion dates back to 1972. According to an article by Marissa Postell, “Prior to Roe v. Wade, New York repealed all laws criminalizing abortion, giving birth to abortion tourism in the United States. Just two years later, and a year before the Roe decision, over 100,000 women traveled to New York City for abortions, half of whom traveled more than 500 miles to come to a city where they could legally abort their children.”
Abortion Vacations: An Unsettling Trend?
Although abortion vacations have existed for over 50 years, they are becoming increasingly popular amidst the overturning of Roe v. Wade. As more conservative states increase abortion restrictions, women are seeking abortions in states with looser laws regarding the practice.
NPR reports, “Nearly 1 in 10 abortions in 2020 were provided to patients who’d crossed state lines, according to a report released Thursday by the Guttmacher Institute.” This is a 6% increase from 2011.
A major shift in the abortion tourism industry began in September 2021 when Texas passed the Heartbeat Act, a law prohibiting abortions in Texas as early as six weeks. As stated by Marissa Postell, “From September to December 2021, nearly 1,400 Texans a month went to surrounding states (Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Oklahoma) to have abortions, according to research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.”
While some women are making the trek across state lines, using their own money and on their own time, many are supported by their workplaces in this endeavor.
Companies and Abortion: The Corporate Role in Funding
Many large corporations are reimbursing their employees who travel out-of-state to receive an abortion. In many cases, “companies already cover abortion care in their health plan, but a number of major employers expanded their benefits to include travel costs after Texas enacted harsh abortion restrictions” in 2021.
Some notable companies include Disney, Meta, Zillow, Buzzfeed, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, Apple, and Netflix. (See a more extensive list here.)
Although the cost of plane tickets, hotel rooms, and abortion procedures may add up, large corporations are undeterred if it means they can hold on to an employee. After all, an abortion vacation is likely cheaper than maternity leave and/or the rehiring and training of a brand-new employee. Thus, many companies are willing to aid their workers in obtaining abortions.
Even the Department of Defense (DOD) is reimbursing abortions in efforts to retain talent. This past July, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby gave “an impassioned speech defending the Pentagon’s policies that pay for troops and their families’ travel expenses to receive reproductive care — including abortion and in-vitro fertilization.”
As the New York Post writes, “Kirby told reporters at the White House that denying women and female dependents access to abortion and other reproductive care risks military readiness by discouraging individuals who need such care from enlisting or remaining in the armed services.”
In other words, the DOD, like many corporations, actively supports and funds employee abortion to increase retention.
Abortion Destinations: A Look at Global Trends
Of the many destinations for an abortion vacation, California, Oregon, Colorado, New York, and Illinois are a few popular spots for women who live in the United States. After Roe, some of these states spent large sums of public funding to provide out-of-state women with abortions.
In California specifically, the state prepared “to spend up to $20m (£17m) to bring women from other states to its abortion clinics, a policy aimed at increasing access to a procedure that has been outlawed or restricted in many states since the US supreme court overturned Roe v Wade.”
According to the Guardian, “State lawmakers in Oregon – anticipating an abortion ban in neighboring Idaho – agreed to spend $15m to help women seek abortions. So far, $1m has gone to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, a nonprofit that helps patients pay for travel and the procedure itself.”
Another statewide abortion support fund in California, Reproductive Justice, has also helped many out-of-state women receive abortions post-Roe and likely received funds from the state.
Abortion vacation is not new, but the practice is becoming more and more evident. There are even websites in which women can plan their abortion vacation in a “fast, professional, and discreet” manner. With services available in “Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, and Polish,” abortion vacation is an international practice as much as it is a domestic one.
As Americans continue to grapple with the effects of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, pro-life supporters must take into account the prominence of abortion vacations and what it means for the number of abortions performed nationwide.
According to NPR, the Guttmacher Institute’s report “looked at not only where abortions were provided but also where patients were from. It found that abortion restrictions did not necessarily translate to fewer abortions. In Missouri, for example, the number of abortions provided there dropped significantly between 2017 and 2020. During the same period, the abortion rate for residents increased by 18% when out-of-state abortions were taken into account.”
With statistics like these, it is more important than ever that pro-life supporters hold fast to their beliefs, stand up for the lives of babies, and advocate for the well-being of mothers facing unexpected pregnancies. One way to do this is through donating to a Pregnancy Clinic.
Pregnancy Clinics like PreBorn! Network Clinics give women an opportunity to think through their options, experience a free ultrasound, and receive care and comfort from a counselor. Most importantly, women get to hear the good news of the gospel. They are encouraged to say yes to life for their babies and for themselves by accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior.
You can support PreBorn! through donations and prayer. Every bit counts in the fight for life.