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Health & Science

Texas Abortions Dropped 14 Percent After Controversial HB2 Law Went Into Effect

Abortion-rights groups had pushed for the 2014 data for months, suspecting the numbers would prove that abortions had become harder to obtain in Texas.


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State health officials released new data on how many abortions occurred in Texas in 2014. The numbers came out just three days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that major parts of a Texas law were unconstitutional.

Reproductive health experts wanted to see the data from 2014 because that was the first year the law known as "HB2" was fully implemented. The justices ruled 5-3 that two parts of HB2 were unconstitutional: the requirements that abortions take place only in outpatient surgery centers, and that doctors who perform abortions obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The data show abortions of all types dropped 14 percent in Texas in 2014 from the previous year. Medication abortions, the ones that use pills, dropped 70 percent.

"The numbers show what we knew all along," said Rochelle Tafolla, a vice president for communications at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

HB2's requirements led to the closure of more than 20 clinics across Texas. Tafolla said some women had to leave Texas to get abortions or continue their pregnancies.

"We heard stories of women wanting to cross the border into Mexico or try to find medications at a flea market," she said. "That's what happens when you pass these medically unnecessary, restrictive laws. It makes abortion unsafe and it puts women's health and lives at risk."

Abortions in Texas have been declining since 2006, but the 2014 drop in numbers was much steeper than previous years. Anti-abortions groups cheered the latest decline.

"We think that abortions are unjust, so we were excited to see the numbers go down," said Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life.

It's unclear how the Texas numbers will change going forward.

The Supreme Court ruling left in place two parts of HB2: a ban on abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy, except in very limited circumstances, and strict rules about how the medication that induces abortions must be administered.