The new abortion law has forced about 1,400 people out of Texas each month for the procedure
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Thousands of Texans had out-of-state abortions in the four months since Texas’ strict abortion law went into effect Sept. 1, according to a new study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP). ) from UT Austin.
The law, known as Senate Bill 8, bars the procedure as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, often before many people realize they are pregnant. Abortions in Texas halved in September from a year earlier.
SB 8 was in place despite violation Roe vs. Wadethe Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion in the United States As a result, Texas had the most restrictive ban on the procedure in the country since the law took effect.
Kari White, associate professor at UT Austin and senior researcher at TxPEP, said the law “has done nothing to change people’s needs for abortion care” in Texas.
“What he’s done is dramatically change how people get care and how long they’re going to get that care,” she said.
Researchers looked at Texas residents who underwent the procedure between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31 at 34 of 44 open facilities in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and from Oklahoma. In August, the month before SB 8 went into effect, they found that 235 Texas residents had abortions at one of these out-of-state clinics.
“Between September and December 2021, an average of 1,391 Texans per month obtained abortions at these out-of-state facilities, with monthly totals ranging from 1,330 to 1,485,” the researchers wrote. Most went to Oklahoma or New Mexico.
Because they couldn’t get data from about 10 facilities operating in those states, the numbers are underestimated, the researchers said. The data also does not include abortions administered to Texans in other US states.
White said his team interviewed about 65 people who had been out of state for abortions and heard “again and again” about how difficult it was to get an appointment.
“They had to go through so many hurdles: finding out they weren’t eligible for services in Texas,” White said, then “calling many clinics – six or 10 – in other states to try to find a place that had an appointment”.
White said many of those states were overrun with patients from Texas. Some also had their own restrictions on the procedure, she said, requiring a waiting period and multiple visits.
Traveling comes at an economic cost for many of these Texans, she said.
“They’re delaying their bills, they’re taking out loans, borrowing money from families, borrowing cars because their car is unreliable,” she said. “[They are] unable to buy food for their families to cover the cost of their travel and out-of-state travel.
White said SB 8 has led to more Texans having out-of-state abortions than any other restriction on the procedure passed in Texas thus far.
“That’s far more than the number of Texans who got out-of-state abortion care when about half of Texas facilities closed following previous abortion restrictions in 2013 and 2014. “, she said. “And that number is even higher than the number of Texans who traveled out of state in the spring of 2020 when Governor Abbott issued an executive order that was interpreted to ban most abortions in the state at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.”
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