Poll: One in five women personally impacted by Dobbs decision on abortion

Nadia Ramlagan

As Texas made recent headlines for ruling against a group of women seeking abortion for serious pregnancy complications, polling found one in five women age 18-49 living in West Virginia and other states where the procedure is banned say they or someone they know have had difficulty getting an abortion.

Ivette Gomez, policy analyst for the health care advocacy nonprofit KFF, said West Virginia currently bans abortion in all cases except when the mother’s life is in danger, or in cases of rape or incest. She noted the law does require victims to report the rape to the police and is only applicable up to eight weeks of pregnancy for adults and 14 weeks for minors.

“There’s been virtually no abortions in the state of West Virginia since October 2022,” Gomez pointed out. “People who live in West Virginia who need an abortion have to travel out of state to get an abortion. So they’d have to travel to Virginia or Maryland or Pennsylvania or Ohio.”

More women said the struggle to access reproductive care is taking a toll on their mental and physical health, and triggering socioeconomic consequences for women forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

She emphasized women denied abortions are more likely to report anxiety, stress and lower self-esteem, compared with women who received an abortion and were also more likely to experience financial hardship.

“They were less likely to have enough money to cover basic expenses like food, housing and transportation, and were more likely to be enrolled in public assistance programs,” Gomez outlined.

Gomez stressed a majority of women nationwide believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and support physicians’ right to perform abortions.

“This was 67% of women in states where abortion is banned and 71% of women where abortion is limited by gestational limits,” Gomez reported.

Under West Virginia law, doctors who violate the state’s abortion ban can lose their medical license.