Study examines abortion data in Georgia and surrounding states

January 27, 2020

By Kelly Jordan

Researchers at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health recently published a study that analyzed patterns of women seeking abortions in Georgia compared to those in contiguous states. Their findings are published in Maternal and Child Health Journal 2020. Rachel Shapiro, MA, MPH, CHES; Blake Erhardt-Ohren, MPH; and Roger Rochat, MD, all from Rollins were authors on the article.

Using vital statistics data from Georgia women seeking abortions from 1994 to 2016, the researchers found that out-of-state residents accounted for 1 in 10 abortions in Georgia during that period with the majority of out-of-state abortions (91 percent) coming from Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Additionally, while the number of abortions sought by Georgia residents decreased over the study period, the number of women from the five states bordering Georgia increased in the same period.

Additional findings include:

  • From 1994 through 2016, the number and proportion of Black women and Hispanic women receiving abortions in Georgia increased for all states included in the study (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee).
  • The proportion of college-educated women receiving abortion services increased, while marital status remained stable.
  • Contiguous state women were more likely to report a prior pregnancy.
  • Residents from Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee obtaining abortions in Georgia between 1994-2016 were more likely to have a gestational age of 20 weeks or more compared to Georgia residents.

The research suggests that this uptick in women seeking abortions from neighboring states may speak to a lack of affordable, safe, early abortion care in their home states. Being aware of these numbers and travel trends can inform policy makers and health care providers as they seek to provide care to their patients.