Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s accessible.
As several states in America have tried — and succeeded — in passing some of the most restrictive anti-choice laws in the nation, it’s clear reproductive rights all over the country are in imminent danger. On Sept. 1, Senate Bill 8 (SB8) went into effect in Texas, banning abortions just six weeks into pregnancy, and on Dec. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a make-or-break case concerning a Mississippi law that may overturn Roe v. Wade if upheld. Those in states with anti-choice laws may be wondering: Can you travel out of state for an abortion? Here’s what you should know about your options.
To date, it’s never been illegal in America to travel to another state for abortion care. “It is legal to have an abortion past six weeks in another state,” says Marzouk, referring to Texas’ six-week ban. It’s also legal to support “someone in obtaining a legal abortion in another state,” she says, whether through providing financial support, transportation, or anything else that makes abortion care more accessible. In fact, when heavy restrictions on abortion go into effect in one state, it’s common for people to begin traveling to neighboring states to access abortion care. More than half a million women traveled outside their home state to have an abortion between 2012 and 2017, according to the Associated Press.
That number could grow. If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court’s decision in Mississippi’s upcoming Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, many states are poised to ban abortion entirely, with so-called “trigger laws” that would automatically ban abortion in the absence of Roe. As of Sept. 22, they’re already on the books in 11 states, including Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Many of these states share borders, and clinics in states where abortion is accessible are already facing strain from increased patient volumes since Texas’ SB8 went into effect in early September.
However, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s accessible. Out-of-state travel “adds time to the abortion experience, and abortion process in general, which makes [accessing] it even more difficult,” Tamara Marzouk, the director of abortion access at Advocates for Youth, tells Elite Daily. As it is, abortion is already pricey: According to Planned Parenthood, a first trimester abortion can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500. When factoring in travel costs, child care, overnight stays, waiting periods, and more, the overall cost of getting an out-of-state abortion could be thousands of dollars.
If you want to help others, or need help yourself, there are ways to make it happen. The National Network of Abortion Funds is a resource and directory meant to connect people seeking an abortion with the financial aid they need to access care — whether it be in another state, or another country altogether. Some abortion funds also offer financial aid for transportation, room and board while traveling, translation services, and more. However, there are other ways to access abortion care through the mail: Using online services, such as Plan C Pills or the Euki app, people are self-managing medication abortions with mifepristone and misoprostol up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. “[Self-managed abortion] is extremely safe and effective,” says Marzouk. “I would recommend they learn all of the information about safely self-managing an abortion.” Of course, in case of emergency, it’s important to immediately seek professional medical care.
While anti-abortion lawmakers seem to be closing in on reproductive rights, it’s important to remember there’s still so much you can do to fight for abortion access in your state. You can volunteer at or donate to your local abortion fund, or join an advocacy program to help spread awareness on the importance of reproductive rights for all. For pregnancy capable people across the United States, abortion access remains critical health care.