Restrictive law passed this summer rewards Texans for turning in people who seek abortions or help others obtain them
New research has found that over the course of September 2021, the number of abortions performed in Texas was half of that carried out the same month in 2020 – bringing the effect of the state’s new near-total ban on terminations into stark relief.
According to the data gathered by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, the year-on-year number also surged by 28 per cent in August, likely reflecting the rush to secure reproductive care before the bill went into effect.
In its research, the project, which is based at UT Austin, explains that before the ban, 93 per cent of abortions in the state were carried out at 19 facilities, which collectively saw the number of procedures they performed drop by 50 per cent – from 4,313 aan 2,164.
Dit, say the researchers, can be attributed to several factors, and not just the restrictions in the bill itself. The lead-up to the law’s introduction allowed clinics to prepare for it, while “patients also may have decided to miss work, school or give up other responsibilities out of concern they would no longer be eligible if they waited to schedule around these obligations.”
On another front, the researchers say, “Increases in financial donations following passage of SB8 may have helped patients living on low incomes to cover the cost of their abortion (oor $650), which they otherwise may have delayed until they could secure enough money.“
Egter, while the number of abortions performed in Texas has dropped dramatically, abortion facilities in neighbouring states are seeing waiting times rise, suggesting a surge in demand from people requiring reproductive health services now effectively outlawed in their home state.
As the researchers note, seeking abortions elsewhere is not easy, especially since most of Texas’ neighbouring states are still highly conservative when it comes to abortion services. “Those who are able to travel out of state,” the report says, “face economic hardships related to covering the cost of travel, lodging, lost wages, and childcare, in addition to their abortion, which together could sum well over $1,000.”
The Texas law sparked national and international outrage as it advanced through the legislature and to the governor’s desk this summer. Aside from the time limit it places on abortions – with a cutoff point at which many people do not even know they are pregnant – it empowers citizens to sue anyone whom they believe has sought an abortion or “aided and abetted” someone in obtaining one (or even just intended to).
In their conclusion, the researchers lay out the implications of the legislation in stark detail.
“As services become further limited in Texas and nearby states, more people will be unable to obtain facility-based abortion care. Among those most affected will be minors who cannot involve a parent in their care, immigrant families who fear encounters with police and border enforcement, parents who have limited childcare options, and people living at or below poverty, many of whom are Black, Latinx, and other people of colour.
“Some may attempt to end their pregnancies on their own, by purchasing medications online, obtaining medications over the counter in Mexico, or resorting to ineffective or harmful measures. Others will be forced to continue their pregnancies, which is associated with adverse health and economic consequences for women and their children.”