Study: Nearly Half of Texas’ Legal Abortion Providers Have Closed Post-HB 2

Forty-six percent of Texas’ legal abortion providers have closed since May 2013, according to a new study led by university researchers in Texas, California, and Alabama, that evaluates the impact of HB 2, the omnibus anti-abortion law passed by Texas lawmakers in July 2013.

Researchers estimate that while the number of unintended pregnancies has likely increased in Texas, the number of legal abortions in the state decreased by 13 percent—and the number of medication abortions decreased by 70 percent—between the six-month period before the passage of HB 2 and the six-month period after the passage of HB 2 and the implementation of three of its four provisions: those that restrict the prescription of medication abortions, require abortion-providing doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, and ban abortion after 20 weeks.

Researchers also estimate that the number of Texans living hundreds of miles from legal abortion facilities has increased by tens of thousands, from 10,000 living more than 200 miles from a clinic in May 2013 to 290,000 by April 2014.

According to the study (abstract available here), the provision of HB 2 that requires abortion-providing doctors to have hospital admitting privileges “was almost certainly the main driver of the large number of clinic closures observed in the months preceding and following its implementation.” At that point, “vast swaths of the state were left without a provider, and the number of women required to travel great distances to reach a provider increased dramatically.”

The corresponding decrease in the overall abortion rate “may have been muted by a potential increased demand for abortion following the severe reduction in public funding for family planning in Texas in 2011.”

The study, to be published in the medical journal Contraception, is the first academic evaluation of the impact of HB 2 to be released since the law passed last year. Researchers at the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, Ibis Reproductive Health, the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, and the Population Research Center and Department of Sociology at the University of Texas focused on three six-month periods: November 2012 through April 2013, before legislators filed HB 2; May 2013 through October 2013, during public debate and passage of HB 2 but before it went into effect; and November 2013 through April 2014, when three of HB 2’s four provisions went into effect.

Researchers drew their conclusions from data provided by 36 of the 41 abortion providers that were open in Texas in November 2012, including all six of Texas’ abortion-providing ambulatory surgical centers, along with demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Our findings suggest that most women desiring an abortion—but not all—overcame the barriers of distance and additional cost to obtain the service they needed,” wrote the researchers. “In addition, the public opposition to HB2 galvanized a coordinated response among activists who provided financial and logistical support to women seeking abortions.”

Throughout all three research periods, researchers found that less than a quarter of legal abortions in Texas were performed at the state’s ambulatory surgical centers, which will be the only remaining facilities licensed to practice legal abortion care after September 1, when the fourth provision of HB 2 goes into effect. At that time, according to the study, “it seems highly unlikely that existing facilities could expand their capacity four-fold to meet the demand for services.”

Correction: A version of this article noted that University of Alabama researchers were a part of this study; in fact, the researchers are from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. We regret the error.

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  • BelligerentBruncher

    ” likely increased in Texas”

    Likely? Yeah, come back with some facts and we’ll talk.

    • Shan

      If you mean that about “Researchers estimate that while the number of unintended pregnancies has likely increased in Texas” you have to understand that actual statistics for that are difficult to quantify because they’re self-reported. But applying logic to the “researchers estimate” bit is not a very difficult thought experiment when one is in possession of a few basic facts, like the researchers were, as well as anybody who has been paying attention to the news for the past several years is or who knows how to use Google *could* be if they put 10 minutes of effort into it. The researchers didn’t just pull that statement out of their collective asses.

      Here are a few facts to get you started: Texas has lost dozens family planning clinics serving hundreds of thousands of mainly low-income residents since the legislature financially gutted the family planning infrastructure in 2011. Texas already has a higher unintended pregnancy rate than the rest of the country, especially for teens, and they’re #1 in the nation for repeat teen births thanks also to no sex-ed (i.e., abstinence-only “education”) in schools. Texas is also #1 in the nation for uninsured people and refused to expand Medicare under the ACA. And all the clinics HB2 has caused – and will cause – to be closed down ALSO were and are another source for affordable, long-lasting contraception, especially important to the large swaths of the rural population who have now been effectively left stranded by HB2.

      The FACT is that Texas has been hamstringing its citizens as far as both education about and access to contraception for years and HB2 made it worse. It’s not really a great intellectual leap to predict that another one of the side-effects would be an increase in unintended pregnancies.

      But you know that, right?

      • BelligerentBruncher

        You wrote all that and it’s meaningless. Get your claims backed by facts and then come back. Until then all you have is speculation and conjecture.

        • Shan

          It’s only meaningless to YOU and only because you apparently haven’t been paying attention. These things have been in the news for years. You shouldn’t even BE here trying to discuss these issues while you’re still bawling like a stranded calf, demanding to be spoonfed links to information everybody else here has been aware of since it hit the headlines.

          Tell ya what. Go do your OWN homework and then come back when you can talk reasonably on ANY topic.

          • BelligerentBruncher

            Yeah, that’s what I thought.

            Pure conjecture.

          • Shan

            Everything I said came from articles in TODAY’S headlines.

          • BelligerentBruncher

            I’m sure you’ll provide links.

          • Shan

            “I don’t disagree with you on this stuff.”

            So you’re just arguing for the sake of arguing and you didn’t have an actual point to make. I’ll keep that in mind.

            “I think unintended pregnancies will increased in Texas. That is my conjecture. That is my speculation.

            Now show us the proof.”

            No, show YOURSELF the proof if you’re really interested in confirming your speculation. Like I said, this is stuff most of us already know around here because we watch/read the news. Not knowing these things is a failing on YOUR part and means you’re not prepared to engage in the discussions. You’re like the poster the other day who wanted “patriarchy” explained.

            Um, no. It’s NOT my job to educate you if you’re too lazy to do it yourself. You showed up late to class, haven’t done your homework and now you expect everybody to stop what they’re doing and catch you up. Again, no.

          • BelligerentBruncher

            I apologize for being so civil. Goodbye.

          • catseye

            “I apologize for being a terminal d!ck.”
            Fixed. No charge,.

        • catseye

          Way to make the point.
          No. 2476 in the Propaganda Playbook (TM): Demand “facts” and then refuse to accept anything that does not support your narrative.
          And double down every time somebody DOES come up with a fact that does not support your narrative.

    • catseye

      No. 2476 in the Propaganda Playbook (TM): Demand “facts” and then refuse to accept anything that does not support your narrative.

  • Nicko Thime

    The war on women continues unabated in Texas.

  • David Priver

    Emergency rooms can be expected to fill up with victims of unsafe abortion any time now. Nice work, Texas!!

  • Shan

    “the number of legal abortions in the state decreased by 13 percent”

    I’ve seen several articles today citing that statistic and it makes me want to point this out: that doesn’t mean the actual number of abortions has decreased, it just means that there’s no way to COUNT the number of legal abortions in the state if they’re done either a) outside the state or b) illegally. There are no abortion statistics prior to 1973, either, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t happening.

    These other articles about the study also point out some other disturbing statistics. Namely that early medical abortions have decreased by 70% (!) due to the unnecessary requirement that the 2nd dose be administered two days later in the presence of the prescribing physicians, requiring patients to make at least three or four visits to a clinic possibly hundreds of miles away (once for the mandatory ultrasound, again for the first dose 24hrs later, the 2nd dose two days after that, and a follow-up two weeks later). Also the incidence of 2nd trimester abortions has increased due to the remaining clinics being overloaded and wait times for an appointment increasing from just one week to sometimes 4 or 5 weeks.

    • BelligerentBruncher

      In other words, you didn’t like the number they gave so you just made a bunch of stuff up. Ok, so you’ve claimed a bunch of things – none of them supported by facts, but rather conjecture and speculation

      Tell, ya what. Go get your facts about the things you are claiming then come back and you can talk reasonably on the topic.

      • JamieHaman

        What Shan did is called ANALYTICAL, CRITICAL thinking. You should try it. She’s also pointed out some of the real problems with the results of HB 2.

        Btw, she is being reasonable, this law hurts women. It hurts their families.

      • catseye

        No. 2476 in the Propaganda Playbook (TM): Demand “facts” and then refuse to accept anything that does not support your narrative.