Abortions in Minnesota increased by 20% in 2022, driven partly by an increase in women traveling from other states that have banned or restricted elective terminations of pregnancies.
More than 16% of the 12,175 abortions last year involved women from other states — with 1,714 women traveling from border states and 290 coming from distant states such as Texas. That is the highest proportion since at least 1980. Abortions involving women from other states or countries doubled the total from 2021.
The 10,166 abortions among Minnesota women also represented an 11% increase from 2021 and the highest annual total since 2010 — though a range of factors could have influenced that figure.
Red River Women's Clinic moved from Fargo to Moorhead in summer 2022 after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck down federal protections and North Dakota banned most elective abortions. The clinic as a result added North Dakota patients to Minnesota's total, but also northwest Minnesotans who in the past would have crossed the border for abortions and not shown up in the annual state report.
The tally of in-state abortions also could have been inflated by women who gave temporary Minnesota addresses because they were afraid to disclose that they lived in states with punitive restrictions, said Tammi Kromenaker, Red River clinic director. The clinic has plenty of cars with Texas and Missouri plates in its parking lot, she added.
"What we put in the report is what they tell us," she said. "We're not the address police."
Last year marked a sharp reversal of Minnesota's trend — a gradual decline in abortions since the late 1980s that reached a low of 9,861 in 2015. Family planning advocates had particularly celebrated declines in abortions among teenagers and highlighted the effectiveness of goal-setting classes in Twin Cities high schools that reduced the rate of unprotected sex. However, abortions among women 19 and younger in Minnesota increased from 874 in 2021 to 1,143 in 2022.
Cathy Blaeser of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life blamed a Ramsey County court ruling in July 2022 that among other things removed a parental notice requirement for minors seeking abortions. DFL lawmakers in 2023 followed that ruling by removing other barriers and cutting grant funding for centers that encouraged alternatives to abortion, she added.
"This abortion report is just the tip of the increase we are likely to see in the very near future," said Blaeser, executive director of the anti-abortion organization.
The data for 2022 also reflected a broadening diversity of providers in Minnesota in an era in which 61% of abortions are by medications rather than surgeries. The report showed slight declines in abortions from 2021 to 2022 by Minnesota's two largest abortion providers, Planned Parenthood and Whole Woman's Health.
Planned Parenthood did see a 25% increase in abortions when comparing the 10 months before and after the Supreme Court ruling last July, and is planning to increase capacity at clinics in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Mankato, said Ruth Richardson, chief executive of Planned Parenthood North Central States.
Minnesota is becoming an "island of access" nationally that will need more providers to meet demand and address economic and racial barriers to care, she added. "It's really encouraging to be able to see a wider medical community stepping up."
Whether that trend continues could depend on access to mifepristone, the drug used in most of Minnesota's medical abortions that has been subject to legal challenges over the past year.
Just The Pill was not identified by name in the state report, but the organization provided 1,893 medical abortions in Minnesota in 2022 through its direct-mail service. That compared to 1,100 abortions in 2021, according to an email from the provider, which also operates in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.
The Minnesota Department of Health issued the 2022 abortion report Friday ahead of an old July 1 deadline, even though state legislation gave the agency until the end of the calendar year. DFL lawmakers this year also eliminated some types of data from future annual reports, arguing that women shouldn't be required to supply information such as the reason for their abortion.
In 2022, about one-third of women declined to offer a reason for their abortions. Of those that offered one or more reasons, more than 87% indicated that they didn't want children at this time while 18% cited economic concerns and 13% said their emotional health was at stake.