Three newly released studies give a closer look at the impact of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which ended the constitutional right to an abortion.
New research shows that fewer women in Texas are terminating their pregnancies at clinical facilities, but that some women are sidestepping the state’s new abortion ban by obtaining abortion pills through the mail.
The Supreme Court’s decision over the summer overturning Roe v. Wade triggered abortion bans in Texas and other Republican-led states.
According to a study released this week by the WeCount Project, in the two months after the reversal of Roe, there were 10,000 fewer abortions across the country; Texas accounted for more than half of the decline.
“Texas saw the greatest increases in travel time to get to an abortion facility," Ushma Upadhyay, the co-chair of WeCount Project, told Spectrum News. "For upwards of eight hours to get to an abortion provider for some people, and that really is pushing this out of reach for so many groups of people who are simply unable to travel.”
A second study found that the number of Texas women ending their pregnancies actually began falling last year after the state adopted a law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
The study by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, which was published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said the number of abortions Texans obtained in and around the state fell 33% in the six months after the law went into effect.
“These laws do nothing to address the many underlying reasons that people are seeking abortion care in the first place," said Kari White, the lead investigator at the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.
"People are going to find other ways to end their pregnancy, either by traveling out of state or by requesting abortion pills online or finding other ways to obtain these medications," White added.
A third study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin that was also published in JAMA found an increase in requests to Aid Access, a nonprofit in Austria that mails abortion-inducing pills to the United States.
After the fall of Roe, Aid Access received an average of about six requests per week per 100,000 Texans of reproductive age. That's about double the number of requests before the court ruling.
Texas makes it illegal for doctors in the state to provide abortion pills but there is little the state can do to prevent organizations out of the country from mailing the medication to Texans.
Some advocates still believe many Texans are wary of pursuing such an option.
“We have three bans in place that are confusing, that are vague, that have even medical providers in situations where they think they might be able to assist someone are even scared to offer them that help because these laws are written in a way to instill fear and to criminalize people,” Delma Catalina Limones, communications director at abortion rights advocacy group AVOW, told Spectrum News.
Democrats have been trying to keep abortion rights top of mind for voters head into Election Day, though some recent polls show that the economy emerging as a top issue. What comes next in the fight over abortion rights will largely depend on who wins next week's election.