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Public Health
KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

Abortions rising in most Mountain West states as Roe v. Wade decision looms

Several cars are parked in lot. Behind the lot is a building with a sign that says, “Planned Parenthood.”
Flickr Creative Commons
Planned Parenthood clinics in Colorado, like this one in Colorado Springs, expect to see patient volumes increase by 80% if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

A new report shows the number of abortions in the U.S. rose significantly in recent years, and increases were seen in many Mountain West states – including some that are poised to ban abortion.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were more than 930,000 abortions in 2020 – up 8% from 2017, which was the last time data was collected.

In Idaho, abortions increased 31% – the biggest jump in the West. That state is prepared to ban them if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Other states set to do the same include Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and Montana.

In a draft opinion that was leaked to the media, Supreme Court justices rejected the landmark Roe decision and allowed states to ban abortions, but an official ruling has not been issued yet.

Jack Teter of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains said such a change would cause its centers in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada to be overwhelmed with out-of-state patients.

“People will call to make an appointment for abortion care or to make an appointment for birth control, and we will be on crisis standards of care,” Teter said. “And we will say, ‘we cannot get you in.’ ”

If Roe falls, Teter says Planned Parenthood centers in Colorado are likely to see patient volumes increase 80% – or by 10,000 patients – in the first year.

In the Mountain West, Wyoming is the only state that saw abortions decrease from 2017 to 2020, according to the Guttmacher report; they dropped 29% over that period.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons, and the image has been partially blurred.

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