The Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently released abortion data from September 2021, the first full month in which the Texas Heartbeat Act was in effect. Last week, there was a flurry of media coverage about this new data, showing that the number of abortions performed in Texas fell by more 60 percent since August.
Much of that coverage focused primarily on the fact that many Texas women obtained abortions in other states instead. There certainly have been a number of anecdotal reports of Texas women seeking abortions elsewhere, but that reality has yet to be quantified. The new data show that there were approximately 3,200 fewer abortions in Texas in September 2021 than there had been in August 2021. Meanwhile, we have no hard data about the number of Texas women who obtained abortions in other states.
Crucially, none of the media coverage included comments from Texas pregnancy help centers, nor did it note that the Texas state legislature appropriated $100 million for the state’s “Alternatives to Abortion” program last year. Many of the articles failed to include commentary from a single pro-life organization.
This is omission is especially unfortunate considering that a survey conducted by Heartbeat International indicated that 41 percent of pregnancy centers in Texas and surrounding states have seen a recent increase in clients. The fact that more Texas women are seeking assistance in carrying pregnancies to term does not seem to be of interest to most outlets.
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Spring 2022 data on births in Texas will offer us better insight into the effects of the Texas heartbeat law. Many studies of pro-life parental-involvement laws have shown that there is often a small, short-term increase in the birth-rate to minors months after the laws took effect, suggesting that at least some minors carried their pregnancies to term rather than obtaining an abortion. There is a good chance that forthcoming data from Texas will demonstrate that the heartbeat law has succeeded in protecting many unborn children. Until then, media outlets are likely to continue promoting the misleading narrative that the heartbeat bill has simply resulted in Texas women seeking abortions elsewhere.
LifeNews Note: Michael New is a research associate at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America and is an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. he is a former professor at Ave maria University and University of Michigan, Dearborn.