87th LegislatureAbortions Decreased Sharply After Texas Heartbeat Act Effective Date, Per HHSC

Texas abortions peaked twice in 2021: first in March when the Texas Heartbeat Act was filed, and second in August just before it took effect.
February 2, 2022
New state data shows a sharp drop in abortions performed in September, the month that the Texas Heartbeat Act took effect.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) released a report on February 1 showing that 2,197 abortions took place in September compared to 5,404 in August.

Abortions in 2021 peaked highest in March, when the law was first filed as a bill, and then at a close second in August, just before it took effect on September 1.

Though the data doesn’t quite demonstrate that Texas abortions have stopped wholesale, the drop is a 60 percent decrease from August.

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At least over the course of 2021, a slim majority of abortions were performed remotely in Texas with abortifacient drugs in a consistent monthly trend. In September, however, the gap between surgical and medical abortions widened dramatically. Dilation and evacuation abortions ceased entirely.

According to the data, just two of the pregnancies terminated in September had progressed beyond 8 weeks from the point of fertilization. In each of the previous months of 2021, unborn children past 8 weeks of gestation accounted for over 700 abortions.

The Texas Heartbeat Act, passed in the regular Texas legislature as Senate Bill (SB) 8, bans abortions once cardiac activity can be detected in the womb. So far, it is the earliest and most stringent restriction on abortion to survive court muster in the country today, largely due to its unique structure.

SB 8 forbids government officials or agencies from enforcement. Instead, it authorizes citizens to sue anyone besides the mother herself that performs or aids a post-heartbeat abortion in Texas. Claimants that prevail in court are entitled to damages from the defendant of at least $10,000. Fathers that conceived the aborted child out of rape or incest may not sue.

Several abortion providers, funds, and other supporters sued before SB 8 took effect, seeking an injunction that would stop all Texas courts from hearing these enforcement lawsuits. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop the law on the eve of its effective date and has thrice allowed the law to continue since then.

The Supreme Court of Texas has agreed to consider whether state agencies have the indirect power to enforce SB 8, one of the key remaining questions in that lawsuit.


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.