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New study estimates Texas abortion restrictions contributed to nearly 9,800 additional births

People hold anti-abortion signs
Gabriel C. Pérez
Students demonstrate against abortion at the Texas Capitol during the Rally for Life in 2018.

Senate Bill 8, the Texas law that banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, contributed to adding 9,799 live births in 2022 alone, a new study estimates.

The study from Johns Hopkins University used provisional data from the National Center for Health Statistics, looking at live births between April and December 2022 — the first group of infants who would have been conceived after SB 8 went into effect in September 2021. It was published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For comparison, the study’s authors created a model of the expected number of births in Texas had SB 8 not been passed. To do so, they considered birth statistics from before the law’s implementation — January 2016 to March 2022 — along with birth rates in other U.S. states. They adjusted the model to account for other factors that may have affected fertility rates, including the COVID-19 pandemic, during which there were notable fluctuations in the birth rate.

Study author Suzanne Bell, an associate professor at John Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health, said her team's findings could be a sign of trends that will emerge in other states following the Supreme Court's 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which rescinded the federal right to abortion.

“[SB 8] was the earliest and most restrictive ban at the time … it went into effect,” Bell said. “It was the first place … where we could start to examine what happens to live births in a state that imposes this sort of abortion restriction or ban.”

After Dobbs, Texas’ so-called “trigger law” closed the six-week window for legal abortions and made nearly all abortions in the state off-limits. Bell expects that when the National Center for Health Statistics release data for 2023 next spring, it will show an even greater increase in births, reflecting both diminished access to abortion in Texas and surrounding states.

“The challenges and the barriers that Texas residents now have to be able to access facility-based abortion care have only increased in very substantial ways since SB 8 first passed,” she said.

Olivia Aldridge is KUT's health care reporter. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X @ojaldridge.
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