As we already know, the omnibus law passed last year–which also placed stricter restrictions on medication abortions and banned the procedure after 20 weeks–has dealt a disastrous blow to abortion access. The number of Texans living more than 200 miles from a provider has increased nearly 30-fold over the past year–from 10,000 to 290,000. And the new study shows it’s had an effect on the abortion rate as well. In the 6 months after the law went into effect, there was a 13 percent decrease in the legal abortion rate in the state compared to the year before. Medication abortions decreased by 70 percent. Meanwhile, there was a “small but significant” increase in the number of abortions conducted after 12 weeks, suggesting all the restrictions are forcing folks to wait longer to get the procedure done.
According to the researchers, it’s actually amazing that the abortion rate hasn’t dropped more. “Given the number of closures, and the size of the population left without a nearby provider, it is surprising that the overall decline in the abortion rate was not greater than the 13% change we observed,” they write. Then again, we know that people who want to end their pregnancies have always been willing to go to any extremes necessary to do so. And, as the researchers note, thankfully activists in Texans have stepped up to help many–but not all–of them overcome the hurdles. However, the researchers predict that some women are also traveling out of state or turning to potentially risky self-induced abortions to get the care that Texas is denying them.
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.