Abortions in Texas fell by nearly 60% in the first month after state lawmakers passed a law in 2021 banning most abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy, The Associated Press reported Thursday.
The Heartbeat Act bans abortions after a heartbeat can be detected, which is generally six weeks into a pregnancy. The legislations has faced a bevy of challenges from pro-choice groups, but the U.S. Supreme Court chose in late January to reject calls to prevent the law from taking effect while it is being litigated. Texas Health and Human Services released data showing that 2,197 abortions had taken place in the state during September 2021, the first month after the law took effect. There had been 5,404 abortions in August 2021. (RELATED: Here’s What Would Actually Happen If Roe Is Overturned)
“The success of the Texas Heartbeat Act is embodied by every child saved,” Texas Right to Life, a pro-life organization, told the Dallas Morning News in a statement. “For over 150 days, our work has saved an estimated 100 babies per day. Our impact is only just beginning as more states seek to replicate our success and as we look to the Mississippi case that could overturn Roe this summer.”
The Heartbeat Act has proven uniquely resilient to legal challenges because it does not impose consequences on women seeking abortions. Instead, it deputizes citizens to file lawsuits against anyone who aides a woman in obtaining an abortion, whether it be the individual who actually carries out the abortion or support staff at a clinic.
Pro-choice groups have filed numerous legal complaints and challenges in an attempt to overturn the law, but none have so far been successful. Abortion advocates have also argued that Texas is not preventing abortions, but is instead causing them to take place outside of Texas. Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas reported that Planned Parenthood clinics in neighboring states saw a 1,082% increase in patients with Texas zip codes seeking abortions in September 2021, according to the Dallas Morning News. The organization did not specify how many Texans were seeking abortions in other states prior to the ban, however.
“Every day that this devastating abortion ban remains in place means more Texans are denied the ability to determine when and how to become a parent along with increasing risk of poverty and negative health and educational outcomes,” a Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas spokeswoman told the Dallas Morning News. “It is unconscionable that thousands of Texans continue to be forced to travel hundreds of miles out of state to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and other farther states to access their fundamental right to safe, legal abortion.”