INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The number of abortions performed in Indiana rose by 8.5% last year, according to a state Department of Health report released Friday.
The data release comes as lawmakers in the Republican-dominated Legislature prepare to debate tighter abortion laws later this month, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate the constitutional right to the procedure.
About 56% of abortions in Indiana last year were drug induced, a slight increase from 2020 when, for the first time, they accounted for a majority at 55%, about doubling the 2016 rate.
Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life, told The Associated Press that the state Legislature has an “historic opportunity" to reconsider abortion law in its special legislative session. Lawmakers will also take up a tax rebate proposal in the session, where debates will begin July 25.
“These latest abortion numbers underscore why the Indiana Legislature needs to act decisively in this upcoming special session to protect all life in Indiana,” he said.
Indiana recorded just more than 80,000 live births during 2021, up from about 79,000 in 2020.
Most states reported an increase in abortions in 2020. More than 930,000 abortions occurred in the U.S. that year, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In 2017 — when abortions were at their lowest nationwide since the Roe v. Wade decision legalized the procedure in 1973 — the number was about 862,000.
Around one in five pregnancies ended in abortion in 2020, according to the same Guttmacher report, which was released days before the Supreme Court overturned Roe.
Nicole Erwin, an Indiana spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said in a statement that Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana, where abortion is still legal, are seeing patients traveling from Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to access abortion care.
The majority of patients who got abortions in the state last year were Indiana residents, at 7,949 patients, according to the health department report. But the next-highest group, at 465, came from Kentucky, where a judge blocked a “trigger law” Thursday and temporarily halted a ban on all abortions in the state.
“Everyone deserves access to abortion care, no matter their zip code,” Erwin said.
Legal battles over abortion access are coursing through the U.S., particularly in the 13 states with trigger laws.
Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Arleigh Rodgers on Twitter.