Exploring the emotional costs of abortion travel in the United States due to legal restriction

Katrina Kimport, Maryani Palupy Rasidjan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objectives: Pregnant people have traveled across state and national borders for the purpose of abortion since at least the 1960s. Scholarship has robustly documented the financial and logistical costs associated with travel, but less work has examined the emotional costs of abortion travel. We investigate whether abortion travel has emotional costs and, if so, how they come about. Study design: We conducted in-depth interviews with 30 women who had to travel across state borders in the United States for abortion care because of their gestation. We analyzed findings thematically. Results: Interviewees described having to travel to obtain abortion care as emotionally burdensome, causing distress, stress, anxiety, and shame. Because they had to travel, they were compelled to disclose their abortion to others and obtain care in an unfamiliar place and away from usual networks of support, which engendered emotional costs. Additionally, travel induced feelings of shame and exclusion because it stemmed from a law-based denial of in-state abortion care, which some experienced as marking them as deviant or abnormal. Conclusions: People who have to travel for abortion care experience emotional costs alongside financial and logistical costs. The circumstances of that travel—specifically, being forced to travel because of legal restriction and service unavailability—are foundational to the ensuing emotional burdens. Findings add to the emerging literature on how laws and other structures produce the stigmatization of abortion at interpersonal and individual levels. Implications: With abortion bans following the overturning of the right to abortion and existing gestational limits in the US, more people will have to travel for abortion care. Attention to the emotional costs of abortion travel can help providers understand what their patients may be experiencing when they present for care.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number109956
    StatePublished - Apr 2023


    • Abortion
    • Abortion restrictions
    • Abortion travel
    • Emotions
    • Stigmatization

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Reproductive Medicine
    • Obstetrics and Gynecology


    Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the emotional costs of abortion travel in the United States due to legal restriction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this