Abortions in Texas Plummet Following Enactment of Ban

Abortions in Texas Plummet Following Enactment of Ban
A security guard opens the door to the Whole Women's Health Clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, on Sept. 1, 2021. (LM Otero/AP Photo)
Zachary Stieber

Abortions in Texas dropped significantly in the month after the state's abortion ban took effect, according to newly released statistics.

The number plummeted from 5,404 in August 2021 to 2,197 in the following month, according to the data from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

Just two procedures were done in September for women who were pregnant for nine weeks or more, highlighting the effectiveness of the new law.

Abortions also went down among all racial groups and among all age groups, with the largest decrease among whites and those between the ages of 19 and 25.

No data is available yet for the remaining months of 2021.

The law, known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, went into effect on Sept. 1. The law bars medical professionals from performing abortions unless they tried and failed to detect a fetal heartbeat.

A doctor can also perform an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected, but only if he or she deems the situation a medical emergency.

An unusual mechanism prohibits state employees from enforcing the law, but empowers private citizens, letting them file lawsuits against anyone involved in an abortion that allegedly violates it.

If a person brings a lawsuit and it succeeds, they will be awarded at least $10,000 for each abortion with which the defendant performed or helped.

The Supreme Court and lower courts have repeatedly refused to act against the law, which still has several cases pending against it.

In a statement to news outlets, Planned Parenthood said the newly released figures show "the very beginning of the devastating impact of S.B. 8, which has now been in effect for more than five months."

Pro-life groups, though, say the figures show the law is saving the lives of unborn babies.

“The success of the Texas Heartbeat Act is embodied by every child saved. For over 150 days, our work has saved an estimated 100 babies per day. Our impact is only just beginning as more states seek to replicate our success and as we look to the Mississippi case that could overturn Roe this summer," Kimberlyn Schwartz, director of media and communication with the Texas Right to Life, said in a statement.
The nation's top court heard oral arguments for and against overturning Roe v. Wade on Dec. 1 and is expected to issue a ruling in the coming months.
Roe, issued by the court in 1973, declared access to abortion a constitutional right. The ruling has restricted states from banning or limiting abortions, particularly in the early phases of pregnancy.
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