The number of abortions Texas residents received dropped by 97% the month after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Only 68 abortions were performed for Texans in the month of July, according to preliminary data from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, down from the 2,596 procedures performed in June, the month that the Supreme Court found in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that there is no constitutional right to abortion.
The new data reveal that abortions in the state, after being greatly reduced by the 2021 law that banned most abortions after a fetal heartbeat was detected (which is generally around six weeks of pregnancy), effectively ceased in June as providers held back out of uncertainty over the law.
Abortion providers stopped operations almost completely as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said that a pre-Roe abortion ban, dating back to 1925, was again enforceable in the wake of Dobbs. The 1925 ban prohibited most abortions from the moment of fertilization. Under the law, providers also faced a five-year maximum prison sentence.
“I think that part of that was the confusion afterward, but we’re also seeing that the law in Texas took effect, and when it did, Texas was seeing a significant drop off in the number of abortions that were being performed,” said Laura Echevarria, communications director and press secretary for the National Right to Life Committee, which is opposed to abortion.
The decision in Dobbs put into motion two state laws that further restricted abortions and criminalized physicians providing them.
Abortion rights proponents filed a lawsuit in late June opposing the 1925 abortion ban, which resulted in some providers resuming abortions up until six weeks of pregnancy, but by early July, the state Supreme Court ruled that the 1925 ban was constitutional.
The state’s “trigger law” — that is, a law written to go into effect in case Roe was struck down, which state lawmakers had passed in 2021, took effect a month later on Aug. 25 and upped the maximum sentence for providers that violate the law to life in prison.
The net effect was the virtual elimination of abortions in the state. Abortions, though, had already been significantly reduced by the implementation of Texas’s SB 8 last year. Abortions decreased by 61% from August to September, per state data.
Between January to July this year, 17,194 abortions have been performed in the state, representing roughly half the amount of procedures that were done during the same period in 2021. This year, all but 14 were done within the first eight weeks of pregnancy, representing that only a small percentage of abortions past that point were allowed under the limited exceptions in SB 8.
A spokesperson for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission noted that provisional monthly abortion statistics may change slightly as they are finalized.