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The Geography of Abortion (The Atlantic)

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The debate on abortion is a fairly close split among Americans, but also breaks down geographically. A 1994 NBER study found that from 1974 to 1988, “extensive Republican or Democratic control in a state is uncorrelated with abortion rates.” Today, abortion is positively associated with the share of state voters who voted for Obama in 2008 (.60 to .65) and negatively associated with McCain votes (-.58 to -.63). Based on data from the Guttmacher Institute, 37 states are below the national average of 19.1 abortions per 1,000 women while 13 states are above the national average. Of U.S. counties, 87% lacked any abortion providers. Only seven states have abortion providers in more than half of all counties. “Nearly one-quarter (24%) of women seeking an abortion travel 50 miles or more to find a capable physician,” according the Annual Review of Public Health.