AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new study published Tuesday found Texas’ Senate Bill 8 led to a reduction in the number of Texas facility-based abortions and an increase in Texans instead traveling for out-of-state abortions.
SB 8 went into effect on Sept. 1, 2021, and it banned abortions after “detection of embryonic cardiac activity,” roughly five to six weeks after a pregnant person’s last menstrual period. Before the law, Texas allowed abortions until 22 weeks of gestation.
The study, led by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, found a 39.7% drop in facility-based abortions in the month after SB 8 went into effect (5451 to 2169). During that time, out-of-state abortions increased from 222 to 1,332.
Lead author Dr. Kari White of UT Austin’s Steve Hicks School of Social Work said while the study only looked at states neighboring Texas, it is possible Texans traveled further or self-managed their abortions.
“With the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the landscape for abortion care in the states surrounding Texas but also across the country has dramatically changed. And so really the options that people will have for care is really dependent on their on where they live,” White said.
With recent abortion bans in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas, White said Texans may now have to travel across several states for abortion access. The study has completed before those bans.
White also noted other studies have found denying abortion to people had negative economic and physical impacts.
“Compared to people who obtained the abortion that they were seeking, people who were denied an abortion were more likely to live in poverty, more likely to stay in relationships with unsafe partners, had poor health outcomes and their children were delayed in meeting developmental milestones,” White said, “These types of restrictions really do impact people and their families. And I think that is something that’s really important to keep in mind.”
“I think what our data shows is that these types of restrictions on abortion do not address the underlying reasons why people decide that they need abortion care. They do not prevent unwanted pregnancies. They do not prevent people from developing complications in pregnancy that make abortion the most appropriate intervention for them,” White said. “So, these types of bans will not prevent people from needing abortion care. They will make it more difficult for people to obtain it, and for some people, it will put abortion care out of reach.”