A new John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analysis shows that Texas had 9,799 additional births since the state’s abortion ban was enacted last year.
The law, Texas Senate Bill 8, went into effect in Sept. 2021 and banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — nearly banning all abortions in the state, with a few exceptions.
This is the first study to examine how the state’s abortion ban would have affected live births in the state. The study’s authors note that the findings of this analysis cannot be generalized because the results were restricted to Texas.
The analysis examines live births between April and December 2022, the study is done with people who were at least seven weeks pregnant when the law went into effect or later became pregnant.
Researchers used historical birth data to model the number of births that would have occurred in Texas if the law had never gone into effect, comparing it to the number of actual births.
“There has been a lot of speculation about how restrictive abortion policies will affect the number of babies being born. This research adds valuable information to that discussion,” Alison Gemmill, one of the study’s lead authors said. “Although our study doesn’t detail why these extra births occurred, our findings strongly suggest that a considerable number of pregnant individuals in Texas were unable to overcome barriers to abortion access.”
Although researchers expect abortions to drop and birth rates to increase after abortion restrictions go into effect in a state, the extent of its effects is not known for some time.
The researchers calculated a 5% increase in births in Texas than if the law had never gone into effect. If the ban had not gone into effect, the number of births in Texas during the nine-month period of the study would have been 287,289 the actual number of births was 297,088, a difference of 9,799.
In another 2022 study published in JAMA, the number of abortions provided to pregnant Texans in Texas or one of the six adjacent states decreased by — 38%. There were 2,171 fewer abortions in the month following the abortion ban in Texas went into effect.
“The study’s findings highlight how abortion bans have real implications for birthing people, thousands of whom may have had no choice but to continue an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy to term,” Suzanne Bell, one of the study’s lead authors said. “Notably, the majority of people who seek abortions live below or close to the poverty line. So many of these birthing people and their families were likely struggling financially even before the recent birth.”
Nine months after the Texas law had gone into effect, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, changing decades of precedent in the landmark Dobbs decision.
Since then, 14 more states have enacted restrictions and bans on abortion.
In a separate federal lawsuit, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely hear the case challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, a part of a two-drug regime used for about half of abortions today.
While mifepristone is still available, the lawsuit further tenses the fight for reproductive rights in the country.