How many abortions would Texas' 6-week ban prevent?
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The enactment of Texas’ restrictive abortion law has jolted both sides of the debate who see high stakes in the resulting number of mothers and unborn babies affected.
It’s a difficult calculation to make, as abortion rates regularly change and data sources are usually fragmented or incomplete. However, preliminary estimates suggest that the law could prevent roughly 132 procedures per day, or 4,009 per month.
When Planned Parenthood sued Texas, its lawsuit said that roughly 85-90% of abortions occurred after six weeks gestation. The abortion provider pointed to a study from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TPEP), which used its own 2018 survey to report that 16% of women were at less than six weeks gestation at their abortion appointments. Alternatively, 84% were not at less than six weeks gestation.
According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, the state saw 57,275 abortion procedures in 2019. Using the TPEP’s rate of 84% of abortions occuring before six weeks, that would translate to 48,111 abortions in 2019.
The numbers could be higher or lower based on a variety of factors. For example, Texas women may cross state lines in order to obtain abortions after six weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which published data for 2018, reported that 21,299 abortions occurred in Texas at or before six weeks of gestation in 2018. That translates into roughly 58 abortions per day and 1,774 per month.
But that data is somewhat limited given how that includes abortions as late as six weeks and six days.
“CDC data for Texas reports that 33,841 abortions took place at 7 weeks’ gestation or later in 2018,” said Tessa Longbons, a research associate at the anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute.
“However, CDC’s data on abortions ‘at or before six weeks’ includes abortions up to 6 weeks and 6 days and there are no data specifically for 6 weeks, or prior to 6 weeks. We can estimate that Texas’s protecting life from the first heartbeat could save more than 33,000 lives per year. The number is possibly even higher.”
The numbers are also likely higher for Planned Parenthood, whose Texas affiliates reported the legislation would impact between 92% (Planned Parenthood of Gulf Coast) and 93.4% (Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas) of their abortions.
The abortion provider did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Some anti-abortion advocates have floated 150 as a daily figure. That’s close to the 151 abortions that result from dividing Guttmacher Institute’s 2017 data (55,440 abortions in Texas) by 365. That 55,440 figure reflects the total number of abortions, including those before six weeks. With Texas’ state data for 2020, a similar figure (147) emerges for all abortions, before and after that cutoff.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services reports monthly abortion figures according to different ranges in post-fertilization age, which the state defines as two weeks prior to gestational age. The lowest range, however, is zero to eight weeks, which extends past the limit Texas is thought to impose.
While it’s possible to detect pregnancy prior to six weeks, many have speculated that women could easily miss this cutoff by merely relying on their menstrual cycle. Other delays, such as travel and timing, could make obtaining an abortion impossible, especially if a woman suspects her cycle is irregular in a given month.
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