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Study Shows Abortions in Texas Decreased by Half Since ‘Heartbeat’ Law Took Effect

Timothy Tai/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP, File

A study published Friday shows that the number of clinic-performed abortions in Texas decreased by half in September, the month S.B. 8 – the state’s law that bans abortions upon fetal heartbeat detection – went into effect.


In the findings from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project’s study, 2,164 abortions were performed at clinics in Texas. In September 2020, 4,313 abortions took place. Compared with August 2021, there were 5,377 abortions in Texas. According to the study, this high number “likely reflects the facilities’ expanded hours to accommodate more patients needing care in anticipation of S.B. 8 going into effect.” The study compiled data from 19 of the state’s 24 abortion providers, which provide roughly 93 percent of all abortions reported in state annual vital statistics data.

S.B. 8, which took effect Sept. 1, bans abortions at roughly six weeks gestation, before many women know they are pregnant. “Over 40% of people seeking abortion care do not contact a Texas facility until after 6 weeks of pregnancy,” the study write-up notes. “Some of those who called for an appointment after September 1, 2021 were likely told they were ineligible for care based on the date of their last menstrual period, and others were turned away after an ultrasound showed embryonic cardiac activity.”


On Nov. 1, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments for two cases surrounding S.B. 8. This comes after the Biden administration promised a “whole-of-government” approach to fight S.B. 8 and Attorney General Merrick Garland announcing that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would sue Texas over the law. S.B. 8 is currently the most state-restrictive abortion ban in the United States.

“The decrease in the number of abortions provided in Texas during the first 30 days that SB8 was in effect was considerably larger than previously documented decreases that followed the implementation of other restrictions,” the study reads. “This large decline indicates that SB8’s very narrow criteria for providing in-state abortion care have excluded many pregnant people from obtaining abortions at Texas facilities.” 

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