Anti-abortion legislation passed by Texas lawmakers last year that cut the ranks of providers in half resulted in a 13 percent reduction in procedures, according to a report from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.
The law, which passed in July 2013 after Democratic Senator Wendy Davis staged a filibuster that made her a national figure and propelled her gubernatorial campaign, required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital and clinics to become hospital-like outpatient surgical centers. Since April 2013, the number of clinics fell to 22 from 41 and the annualized numbers of abortions was cut by about 9,200, today’s report found.
“There is no evidence that any of the provisions in this law has improved the safety of abortion in the state,” said Daniel Grossman, an obstetrician-gynecologist and vice president for research at Ibis Reproductive Health, which assisted with the study. “They have just made it harder for women to access the services they want and need.”
The Texas tally is among dozens of clinics closed across the U.S. in recent years as states passed laws restricting the procedure. Last year, as lawmakers debated the measure in the Austin statehouse, abortion-rights advocates argued that the law was meant to impede women’s access to abortion rather than to protect their health.
The Texas Policy Evaluation Project, a five-year effort to track the law’s impact, includes researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Ibis, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based women’s research and advocacy group. The report is to be published in the journal Contraception.
In Texas, the number of reproductive-aged women who live more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) from a facility rose to 290,000 from 10,000, the report said.
The legislation, which also placed restrictions on abortions induced by drugs, led to a 70 percent decline in terminations done that way. Access will diminish further when the surgical centers provision takes effect this year, the report said. Currently only six providers would qualify.
Backers of the restrictions argued that tighter regulations were needed to drive away shoddy providers, and would lead to higher standards of care.