In the months after Texas banned all but the earliest abortions in September, the number of legal abortions in the state fell by about half. But two new studies suggest the total number among Texas women fell by far less — around 10 percent — because of large increases in the number of Texans who traveled to a clinic in a nearby state or ordered abortion pills online.
Two groups of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin counted the number of women using these alternative options. They found that while the Texas law — which prohibits abortion after fetal cardiac activity can be detected, or around six weeks — lowered the number of abortions, it did so much more modestly than earlier measurements suggested.
Combined, the data points to what may happen to abortion access if the Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade when it rules on another abortion law this summer. The data shows the limitations of laws restricting abortion. Yet it also shows how restrictions erect significant obstacles, which will cause some women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.
"The law is semi-effective; it will not stop all abortions," said Abigail R.A. Aiken, an author of the study, who teaches public affairs and leads a research group studying self-managed abortion at the University of Texas at Austin.