Texas abortion facilities reported a huge drop in abortion numbers during the first 30 days when the state heartbeat law was in effect, according to new research from the University of Texas at Austin.
Though some women are getting abortions earlier and others are traveling out of state, researchers acknowledged that the law is preventing abortions. And that means babies’ lives are being saved.
The New York Times reports the University of Texas at Austin researchers found a 50-percent drop in abortions in September, compared to the same month in 2020.
Abortion facilities reported 2,164 abortions in September 2021, down from 4,313 in September 2020, according to the new research. That equates to 2,149 babies’ lives.
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“The last two months have been a phenomenal success for the pro-life movement,” John Seago, legislative director of Texas Right to Life, told the Times in reaction to the research. “We are the first state to be able to enforce a heartbeat bill, and lives are being saved every day because of this work.”
The heartbeat law went into effect Sept. 1, prohibiting abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. Unique from other state pro-life laws, the Texas law allows private citizens to enforce the abortion ban by suing abortionists who violate it.
Thus far, the courts have allowed Texas to enforce the law. Twice, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to temporarily block it; however, the justices are scheduled to hear oral arguments in the Biden administration’s challenge on Monday.
The law could save tens of thousands of babies’ lives every year. In 2020, about 54,000 unborn babies were aborted in Texas, and about 85 percent happened after six weeks of pregnancy, according to state health statistics.
The new data confirms that babies are being spared from abortions across Texas. Researcher Kari White said the 50-percent drop in abortions was lower than expected, but they predict that the numbers will drop even more in the coming months.
“It’s one data point in a further downward slide,” White said. “I would expect we’ll see the number decrease in subsequent months.”
The researchers examined abortion numbers in September 2020 and September 2021 at 19 of the 24 abortion facilities in Texas. These abortion facilities do about 93 percent of all abortions in the state.
Allison Gilbert, an abortionist at Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center in Dallas, told the newspaper that their abortion numbers dropped about 75 percent, but they believe that could increase to 90 percent in the coming months if the law remains in effect.
Gilbert said they turned away one woman who was five weeks and four days pregnant because her unborn baby’s heartbeat already was detectable.
Here’s more from the Times:
Yet it seemed a few factors led to more abortion care than expected.
Abortion providers have more availability to see patients quickly because they are not providing abortions to anyone past about six weeks of pregnancy. And doctors have been working longer hours to try to care for as many patients as possible. (Both dynamics could change if clinics cut staffing to stay afloat.) Also, women who were worried about being unable to get an abortion because of the law might have sought care earlier than they otherwise would have.
“I think people are just high-tailing it as fast as they can into a clinic, because they are just so afraid they are not going to get an abortion,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, the chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, which runs four clinics in the state.
Stefanie Fischer, an economist at Monash University in Australia who has studied abortion data, told the news outlet that roughly half of women who cannot get abortions in Texas likely will go to another state or find another way to get an abortion.
But that still means the law is preventing abortions and saving babies’ lives. Fischer basically admitted as much, saying, “While some women will find a way, it won’t be the case that they all find a way.”
Meanwhile, pregnancy centers, maternity homes and other pro-life charities across Texas are reporting a major uptick in calls for help, and many are working to expand their outreach to help mothers choose life for their babies.
A new report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that pro-life pregnancy centers provided nearly $33 million in services, materials and support to Texas women and families in 2019. Earlier this year, Texas legislators voted to increase support for pregnant and parenting families through the Alternatives to Abortion and the Healthy Texas Women programs.
Also significant, a new poll from the University of Houston/Texas Southern University found a solid 55 percent of Texas residents support the life-saving legislation – in spite of the massive negative publicity, misinformation campaigns and international condemnation, The Houston Chronicle reports.