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Out-of-state abortions rise in Minnesota, says first post-Roe annual MDH report

This report might have much less information next year: Much of the data reported by the state may not be collected and released publicly because the Legislature repealed parts of the state law requiring it.

Cervical cancer and HPV detection and treatment methods are widely available; encouraging people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to take advantage of them may require changing the way medical care is delivered.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

There was a 20% increase in abortions reported to Minnesota health officials last year, according to a new state report that offers the first in-depth data on the procedure since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Half of the increase came from out-of-state residents, a mix of patients from states like North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Texas. In fact, a greater share of abortions in Minnesota were performed on out-of-state residents than at any point since the state started reporting the data in 1980.

In total, 12,175 abortions were performed in the state, compared to 10,138 in 2021.

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The data released on Friday comes from an annual report on abortions in Minnesota, which details information on who gets abortion, plus when, how and why they get them. It covers abortions throughout 2022. The Minnesota Department of Health has been required by state law to release that report for decades. But it also might be the last of its kind.

Earlier this year, DFL lawmakers who control the Legislature passed a law to substantially reduce the amount of information required to be collected and reported by the state. Some data will continue, but there may be much less of it. 

Here’s what the latest report on abortion says:

Abortions are up — partially from out-of-state patients

There were 20% more abortions reported to the state last year compared to 2021, data that seem to back up anecdotes of an increase in out-of-state patients after the Supreme Court ruling led many states to outlaw or severely restrict abortion across the country. The procedure remains legal in Minnesota.

RELATED: DFL makes state-protected abortion rights a top priority at Legislature

The data released by Minnesota officials covers the entire year, so it’s difficult to definitively say if there was an uptick in response to the ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. But there were more abortions reported to the state in the months after July, which followed the June ruling.

State health officials say half of the total increase in Minnesota came from people who traveled to the state for an abortion. For instance, the state reported 56 abortions for Iowa residents in 2021, but 174 last year. There were 84 abortions performed on North Dakota residents in 2021, and 383 in 2022. Abortion is legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy in Iowa. The procedure is mostly illegal in North Dakota.

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The MDH report says 150 Texas residents received abortions in Minnesota, up from just 18 last year. The state also reported an uptick in patients from Wisconsin, Michigan, South Dakota, Florida, Missouri and Nebraska.


Friday’s report shows out-of-state residents made up a larger share of total abortions than at any point since the state’s data began in 1980. Last year, 16.5% of abortions were performed on out of state residents. In 2021, it was 10%. The previous high was 13.3% in 1980.


But the rate of abortions for Minnesota residents, which accounts for population increase, is also up from recent years. The current rate is 9.5 per 1,000 female residents ages 15 to 44, up from 8.5 last year. The new rate is the highest since 2011, though generally the rate has steadily declined from 17.2 in 1980.


The state report also shows who is getting abortions. Those in their 20s and 30s are the most common abortion patients reported to the state. That hasn’t changed in new data.

Black, American Indian and Asian residents make up a disproportionate share of those getting abortions, which has been the case in years past.

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About 57% of people had given birth at least once before, while 38% reported having at least one abortion before. Both numbers are similar to 2021.

Patients are asked their reason for having an abortion. That question has been the subject of much controversy at the Legislature. DFL lawmakers called it invasive.

The most common answer — given by 60% of people — was not wanting  children at the time. The second most common answer was “unknown,” or they refused to answer. About 12% answered with “economic reasons,” and about 9% said their emotional health was at stake.

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Among Minnesota residents, about 48% used public assistance to pay for the procedure, while 33% paid on their own. Roughly 19% had private coverage.

Abortion procedures 

The data shed light on when abortions take place, showing the vast majority are done within a clinical estimate of eight weeks of gestational age.

About 66% took place before nine weeks, and about 83% took place within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion after 20 weeks in a pregnancy remains rare. The state reported 225 abortions — about 1.8% — between 21 and 24 weeks of gestation, and two abortions between 25 and 30 weeks. None were reported after, though the gestational age of the fetus was not reported in 85 cases.


Minnesota law does not limit abortion by the age of a fetus, though legislation this year to cement abortion rights in the state was criticized by Republicans for allowing third trimester abortions.

In 2021, the share of abortions between 21 and 24 weeks was about 1.5%, meaning the number has not changed significantly. Only one took place after 25 weeks that year.

The share of abortions induced by the medication Mifepristone — the most common method of performing the procedure — was the same in 2022 as in 2021.

What we won’t know in the future

MDH’s abortion report has been a subject of controversy at the Legislature. Many DFL lawmakers felt the information collected — some required by law, some by agency rule — was unnecessary, intrusive, or served no public health purpose.

Others have disagreed — including MDH itself, at least in the past, and some public transparency advocates. The Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, eventually passed a law greatly restricting, but not eliminating the state report.

MDH spokesman Scott Smith said it made sense to put out the data they had already collected from last year even though the new law is already in effect. And MDH did drop at least one question they previously asked: Whether or not contraception was used at the time of conception. The report says the data were unreliable and had little to no public health value.

But next year, the report will likely be a lot different. State law will not require MDH to collect and report information on the specific reason for a woman’s abortion, whether an abortion was paid for by public assistance, as well as the number of prior abortions. It will still include the method of every abortion, the total number, the gestational age of the fetus, and the age of the woman.

Lawmakers also repealed a state rule that asks for a patient’s city, county and state of residence, race, marital status and more. Smith said he could not confirm if that information wouldn’t remain. “My understanding is that there are some things we are no longer required to collect but they might still be optional, and there will be discussions about how to interpret the new law as we work on the next report,” he said in an email.