Even before the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade in June, more people from outside Washington were seeking abortion care here last year, the latest data from the state Department of Health shows.
Contrary to national trends, abortions in Washington have steadily declined over the past decade, with 16,349 abortions recorded in 2021 and an abortion rate of 9.9 abortions per 1,000 people of reproductive age.
This is a minor increase over 2020, when abortions in Washington hit an all-time low of 16,310 — an increase primarily driven by a growth in out-of-state residents seeking abortion care here, with Eastern Washington recording the biggest surge.
In 2021, the state recorded 988 abortions for nonresidents, the highest count in more than 10 years. In 2010, the state recorded 1,020 abortions for out-of-state residents.
Raw counts of abortions for out-of-state residents show they were on a precipitous decline up to 2015, after which they started to rise, particularly since 2017 when President Donald Trump took office and anti-abortion legislative efforts saw an upsurge.
The greatest increases in abortions were recorded outside the Seattle area, particularly in the eastern counties of Whitman and Benton where abortion rates doubled and tripled in 2021, respectively, compared with the previous year.
Each of these counties have one publicly funded abortion clinic and are located near rural eastern counties that do not have access to a publicly funded facility. In Spokane, where conservative outfits are known to protest outside the local Planned Parenthood, the abortion rate increased by nearly 50%.
Meanwhile, the South Puget Sound and peninsula counties of Mason, Thurston and Grays Harbor recorded significant drops in abortions in 2021. Clallam, Snohomish and Pierce counties, with one or more publicly funded abortion clinics, also recorded declines.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, most abortions are now banned in at least 13 states as restrictive laws come into effect. With more bans expected in other states in the coming years, the number of people traveling to Washington for abortion care is projected to quadruple, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.
Those projections are likely to be affected by the results of the recent midterm elections as voters in California, Michigan and Vermont chose to institute lasting protections in their state Constitutions, and those in Kentucky, Montana and Kansas rejected anti-abortion measures.