State Data Shows a Drop in Abortions After HB2
After weeks of pressure from civil rights attorneys, the Texas Department of State Health Services has released abortion data for 2014 – the first year the state's controversial law, House Bill 2, was in effect.
Ahead of this week's U.S. Supreme Court decision, which struck down key provisions of the law, the ACLU of Texas spent weeks asking health officials to release the statewide abortion data.
In a letter to the Department State of Health Services, the group alleged the department completed the analysis of 2014 data earlier this year and that it instructed employees to "mislead the public about whether [the] statistical tables [were] complete."
Officials maintain it wasn’t ready, but the state has finally released the information and Heather Busby with NARAL Pro Choice Texas says she’s not surprised to see the numbers, which show abortion numbers dropped lower than the national average in 2014.
"We knew all along that HB2 [that] the true intent was to make access to legal abortion difficult, if not impossible, and to force clinics to shut down," she says. "And that’s exactly what HB2 did, and the Supreme Court recognized that and the data that was just released backs that up."
From one year to the next, data shows there were almost 9,000 fewer abortions in Texas. The biggest decrease was in medication abortions – that’s a non-surgical abortion obtained by taking a pill.
In 2013, there were more than 16,000 in Texas. The following year there were fewer than 5,000 in Texas. Busby says tough restrictions on medical abortions in HB2 made it harder than ever to get that type of abortion, which is largely preferred by women seeking an abortion. However, the FDA updated protocol for the drug earlier this year, which Busby says has made it a little easier for Texas women to get these types of abortions.
"Anecdotally that’s what I am hearing from providers is that they are more able to offer that and they are seeing people accessing medication abortions," she says. "However, we do have a legislative session coming up and we have incredibly hostile lawmakers."
Busby says she fully expects lawmakers will revisit ways to tighten rules for medication abortions once more. She also says the data released shows that clinic closures had the biggest impact on women of color. According to 2014 numbers, Hispanic women experienced the sharpest decrease in abortions compared to all other women in Texas.
You can view the full dataset on the Department of State Health Services' website.