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Texans turned to nearby states for abortions after HB2

After Texas implemented House Bill 2, which led to the shutdown of more than half of the state’s abortion clinics, the number of Texans seeking abortions in neighboring states approximately doubled. Abortion restrictions that severely curtail access may result in increases in out-of-state travel for care.

Key Findings

After enforcement of HB2, the total number of abortions and medication abortions declined in Texas, the number and proportion of abortions occurring in the second trimester increased, and patients faced greater barriers to abortion care.
The states bordering Texas (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico) reported that 762 Texas residents obtained an abortion out of state in 2012, and 1,673 did so in 2014.
A greater percentage of Texas-resident patients went to New Mexico for care after HB2, likely due to a lack of mandatory waiting period there and to clinic closures in West Texas.
After the 2016 Supreme Court decision ruling parts of HB2 unconstituional, border-state abortions declined, yet remained higher than pre-HB2 levels.
Texas vital statistics undercounted annual out-of-state abortions.

Study Design

From the period of 2012 through 2017, researchers collected data on the monthly number of Texas-resident abortions from health departments in Louisiana and Oklahoma and from individual facilities in Arkansas and New Mexico. Residence was determined by the address the patient provided to the clinic when seeking services.

Abortion restrictions such as HB2 have immediate and lasting effects on access, forcing many people to face logistical barriers, higher costs, and an elevated risk of complications. If other bordering states enact similarly restrictive laws, Texas residents may have even fewer options for care.

“The decline in border-state abortions after the June 2016 US Supreme Court decision may be due to an increase in number of Texas physicians providing abortions after admitting privileges were no longer required. However, numbers of border-state abortions among Texas residents remained higher through 2017 compared to pre-HB2 levels, which likely reflects limited access where Texas clinics never re-opened.”

The article, Border-state abortions increased for Texas residents after House Bill 2, is available in Contraception.