Study Finds Rising Texas Births After Abortion Laws.  But Questions Remain.

In other states where abortion bans went into effect after Dobbs' decision in June 2022, researchers are still gathering vital statistics to study the effect of new bans on births. The hope is that the ban will have a greater effect on those who have abortions than the SB 8 laws in Texas, since many of them outlaw all abortions and were adopted in a large number of contiguous states, making it more difficult for women to travel. to another state for the procedure.

The study published on Thursday, which looked at data back to 2016, relied on provisional birth data for 2022 because more complete data was not available. It does not include demographic information such as maternal age or race which can be compared to previous years and used to understand other factors that may play a role.

The researchers then created a statistical model of what Texas would have looked like without the abortion law. With that, they can estimate the number of births that will occur in such cases.

“It's an indirect way of measuring what we can't measure,” said Ms. Gemmill. “We don't know the decisions behind whether people seek abortions, or whether they are unable to do so.”

Wider changes in birth rates have complicated the researchers' efforts. The number of births has decreased in recent years in Texas, and throughout the United States, a trend that was exacerbated at the peak of the Covid emergency. But there has been an increase in births since the pandemic in Texas: There were about 389,000 births last year, down from 398,000 in 2016 but more than the number recorded in 2020.

Other factors may have contributed to the trend of higher births over that time period, said Ms. Myers, including an increasing number of foreign-born mothers giving birth, many of them in Texas. Ms Gemmill said that factor is difficult to measure without detailed demographic data on births in 2022.

Despite the new restrictions under SB 8, many Texas women still have abortions, either by having the abortion before the six-week deadline, by traveling out of state for their procedure or by taking abortion pills themselves. Texas has seen a flood of mail-order pills, and some Texans are able to get abortions in Mexico.