Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, 21 states have enacted either full restrictions on abortions, or prohibitions on it during early stages of pregnancy. (Credit: Andrea Piacquadio,

A majority of women in the criminal justice system need permission to travel for their abortions, new data reveals.

The Policy Prison Initiative, a criminal justice think tank, released a report this month detailing the facts and figures on women parolees and women on probation seeking abortion care in the U.S. According to its findings, at least 800,000 women, between these two groups, must seek abortion care out-of-state – and less than 3% are able to travel across state lines without permission. 

Per the report, the situation is particularly dire in Texas, which had more than 102,000 women on probation or on parole in 2022 — the highest number in the nation. The problem is also widespread in Georgia, which had more than 82,000 women in the system that same year, and where the procedure is banned after six weeks. (Most women find out they are pregnant when they are between four to seven weeks along, the American Pregnancy Association says.)

Aside from interstate travel, women on probation and parolees also struggle with high financial costs and electronic monitoring restrictions. Previous research from the institute found that 60% of people on community supervision make less than $20,000 per year, and another 25% don’t have health insurance to cover basic medical costs. And when it comes to electronic monitoring, many women are prohibited from leaving their homes or workplaces and are denied permission to visit a doctor or pharmacy. 

“Ultimately, Dobbs not only made abortion care much less accessible for everyone who may become pregnant; it created new risks of criminalization as well,” PPI researchers wrote in the report. “For people under supervision, those risks are intensified by the travel restrictions found in standard conditions across the country.”

This report comes as we mark the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which generated turmoil and sparked fear for women across the nation. Since then, 21 states have enacted either full restrictions on abortions, or prohibitions on it during early stages of pregnancy, The New York Times recently reported. The National Library of Medicine also found in 2023 that online searches for abortion medications increased by 162% shortly after the Dobbs decision was leaked in May 2022.

This disproportionately impacts women in the criminal justice system. According to a guide from the Community Justice Exchange and Repro Legal Defense Fund, self-managed abortions will be the most accessible option for people under carceral surveillance in states where abortions are illegal. This, in turn, will put this population of women at further risk of criminalization. 

And children are being harmed in all of this, too – a study published this week in JAMA Pediatrics reveals that newborn and infant deaths rose by 13% in Texas, after lawmakers passed Senate Bill 8, which bans all abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat, NBC News reports. 

These findings call for necessary action from state legislators, courts, and community supervision agencies who should seek to “minimize the number and restrictiveness of standard conditions imposed on everyone on probation and parole — and greatly reduce the use of these massive supervision programs in general,” PPI researchers wrote.

“Restricting where people can go inevitably blocks many from accessing the resources they need, which in turn creates health and safety risks for both individuals and communities,” they add. “These very real and life-threatening consequences must be taken into account and not discounted simply because of a criminal legal status.”