NORTH CAROLINA (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — New research estimates North Carolina saw a dramatic drop in abortions during July.

Guttmacher Institute found providers in the Tarheel state performed 31% fewer abortions in July 2023 compared to June 2023.

Care for Women, Children and Families Act, the N.C. law preventing abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy kicked in on July 1st. Guttmacher researchers estimate that facility-based providers administered 1,310 fewer abortions in July 2023 than in June 2023.

“These are numbers that represent real people who are facing real obstacles to care,” said Isaac Maddow-Zimet, a data scientist with Guttmacher Institute.

Guttmacher researchers say this data is an estimate generated from monthly samples collected from providers or clinics combined with historical data. Researchers estimate providers administered 4,230 abortions in the formal healthcare system in June and 2,920 in July.

“I think, in some ways, the July data represents a shock to the healthcare system; a lot of providers had to really go to great lengths to be able to provide care in July,” Maddow-Zimet said. “Having an in-person requirement means that there’s double the number of appointments, which requires much more staffing at the clinic level, which is really something that’s difficult for providers to do.”

A part of North Carolina’s abortion law also requires in-person counseling at least 72 hours before scheduling the procedure.

Representative Kristin Baker, (R) Cabarrus, helped champion the abortion changes, and she celebrates the new data. She is a psychiatrist who believes it’s important to holistically support women who choose not to terminate pregnancies.

“What I’d like to see then is are adoptions going up; how are we doing with that?” Representative Baker asked. “How are we doing with housing and affordable housing? You know, all of those things intersect. But I think it’s very promising, and certainly, lives saved are absolutely something to celebrate.”

Representative Baker has announced she is not running for re-election, but she hopes her legislative colleagues prioritize giving women other options outside of terminating a pregnancy.

“That’s a call to action for us to continue reinforcing the options that we provide for these women and the ways that we walk alongside them,” Representative Baker said. “I am encouraged to hear [the data]. At the same time, I think one of the initiatives we really put forward and want to keep building on is supporting women when they make that decision not to have an abortion, meaning opportunities to support them individually.”

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Researchers noted that abortions are not increasing in neighboring states like South Carolina or Virginia. This leads researchers to believe some women may be self-managing their abortions by ordering pills in the mail or are just forced to remain pregnant.

“It’s always been very challenging to measure numbers of abortions in the U.S. It’s something that’s very stigmatized, and it’s something that has always been a challenge to collect,” Maddow-Zimet said. “I think it’s important to recognize these are estimates; we present them with uncertainty intervals to be really clear about the uncertainty. For North Carolina, they’re actually very precise, and so, we can be pretty confident that this drop that we’re seeing is real.”