Repro Roundup: Bans on procedural (surgical) abortions during COVID-19 did not contribute to their lower rate, study finds

Steph Black
2 min readNov 10, 2020

Welcome to my column, The Repro Roundup, in which I summarize abortion news happening around the country, why it matters, and what you can do about it — in 250 words or less.

What’s the issue? According to a study by the University of Kansas, the number of procedural (also called surgical) abortions has not decreased since the start of the coronavirus pandemic because of bans on the procedure. At the onset of the pandemic, thirty-three states banned elective medical procedures and thirteen states specifically included surgical abortions in that category.

Overall, the study found that during the pandemic this year, visits to clinics dropped by 32% compared to the number of visits this time last year. Further, there was a 23% decrease in visits to abortion clinics in states that had restrictions of elective medical procedures. However, states that explicitly banned surgical abortion as a pandemic response measure did not affect the number of clinic visits.

Why does this matter? Like the study found, restricting abortion methods does not decrease the number of abortions. One author of the study, David Slusky, said, “We also know that when we reduce access to abortion, not just abortion rates go down, but birth rates of unmarried women go up and household financial situations worsen. We know if we take this action, then I’d recommend we take other actions to mitigate those unintended consequences.” Restricting abortion doesn’t reduce abortion, it increases negative outcomes as Slusky outlined. It also increases the likelihood that pregnant people will turn to unsafe means to induce their abortion.

What action can I take?

  • Read the full study by the University of Kansas
  • Contact your elected officials and urge them to protect abortion access
  • Donate to your local abortion fund through the National Network of Abortion Funds
  • Donate to the Abortion Care Network, which provides funding to independent abortion clinics across the country where two-thirds of patients will go to receive care
  • Subscribe to The Repro Queen of DC, my monthly newsletter on abortion access, activism, and writing on the frontlines of DC.
  • Subscribe to Repro 101, a seven-week educational email series about all things repro. Topics include the basics of funding abortion, clinic escorting, anti-choice violence, and more.
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Steph Black

Jewish, feminist, queer. Activist, writer in DC. Pro-abortion clinic escort and chronic volunteer. Get in touch, read my newsletter: