Texas House Bill 2 (HB2) was not in effect for long before the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional, but it did help save babies from abortion while it was in place.
The 2013 law had a seemingly simply objective, holding abortion facilities to the same standards that many hospitals must adhere to, including anesthesia pipelines, patient admitting privileges to hospitals within a 30 mile radius, and reasonably sized rooms that provide emergency responders with easy access to patients, the Texas Tribune reported.
The domino effect of this legislation had stunning results, as abortions decreased by 50 percent in one out of every five counties in the state, the Guardian reported this week.
Furthermore, a new Journal of American Medical Association study stated that passage of HB2 resulted in closure of more than half of the abortion facilities in Texas. These were abortion facilities that could not or chose not to protect women’s health by meeting the basic health and safety standards. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law in 2016, but none of these facilities have since reopened, according to NBC5 News of Dallas-Fort Worth.
Facilities that closed were more likely to be in rural areas, and women in those areas who want abortions are more likely to incur increased travel time and costs to the cities. The Guardian cited correlations between distance and the likelihood a woman would go through with aborting her unborn child.
In 55 counties, the distance to the nearest abortion facility increased by 24 miles, and abortion rates declined by 12.7 percent, the report continued. In 33 counties, the distance to the nearest abortion facility increased for some women by 50 to 99 miles, and researchers found a 36-percent decrease in abortion numbers in those areas.
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“Distance matters, and at some point the geographic barriers become insurmountable and constitute an undue burden,” said Daniel Grossman, a participant on a University of Texas research team that analyzes Texas abortion laws, in a statement to NBC5.
There were 54,191 abortions in Texas in 2014, a decline from the 63,168 abortions performed in Texas in 2013, the Texas Tribune reported. Numbers in the Rio Grande Valley and adjacent areas of western Texas fell drastically from 4,589 abortions in 2012 to 2,279 in 2014 in light of passage of the bill, NBC5 reported.
There were 41 clinics scattered throughout 17 counties in the months prior to enactment of HB2. However, there were only 21 clinics throughout six counties in the year following passage of HB2, according to the report. Only six cities in the state now have abortion practices, according to the report.
“HB 2 was an effort to improve minimum safety standards and ensure capable care for Texas women,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Texas state senator at the time of HB2’s original enactment, told the Texas Tribune.
“It’s exceedingly unfortunate that the court has taken the ability to protect women’s health out of the hands of Texas citizens and their duly-elected representatives.”
The U.S. Supreme Court decision on the law was a blow to efforts to protect unborn babies and moms from abortion, but while it was in effect, HB2 did help save lives.