The number of abortions performed in Texas plummeted in the first month since a new law — which prohibits the procedure after a fetal heartbeat is detected — went into effect.
In September 2021, just 2,197 abortions were performed in Texas, a drop of 51 percent from 5,400 statewide abortions in August, according to new figures released by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
The Supreme Court has declined the opportunity to review the law, dismissing most legal challenges to it. A unique enforcement mechanism in the law allows individuals to sue anyone who knowingly performs or abets an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, deferring enforcement to private citizens rather than the state. Since the Supreme Court decision, litigation has been ongoing to determine whether state actors such as the Texas attorney general or Texas Medical Board can enforce the legislation.
Some women have traveled to other states, such as Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas and Louisiana to obtain an abortion as a result of the law, the Dallas Morning News has reported. In December, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a coalition of pro-abortion clinics, activists, and lawmakers, proposing an initiative to make the state a “sanctuary” for abortion by subsidizing travel and lodging for out-of-state women seeking the procedure.
“We’ll be a sanctuary,” Newsom told the Associated Press at the time. “We are looking at ways to support that inevitability and looking at ways to expand our protections.”
The statistics also come as the Supreme Court is positioned to potentially reverse or weaken its decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationally, in the coming term. In December, the court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which concerns a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks gestation. The case forces the court to reassess the standard of fetal viability, established by Roe as the line at which abortion can be regulated.