How Women Are Getting Around Texas' Abortion Law

They're traveling out of state, ordering abortion pills from overseas
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2022 3:19 PM CST
How Women Are Getting Around Texas' Abortion Law
Containers of the medication used to end an early pregnancy sit on a table inside a Planned Parenthood clinic, Oct. 29, 2021, in Fairview Heights, Ill.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Abortions among Texas women have fallen by only 10% since September, when Texas' strict abortion law went into effect, as women look outside the Lone Star State for help, the New York Times reports. That's according to two new studies, which show women traveled out of state for abortion procedures or purchased abortion pills online. One study out of the University of Texas at Austin, published Sunday, found an average of 1,400 women per month traveled to nearby states—mostly Oklahoma and New Mexico, but also Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, and Colorado—for abortion procedures from September to the end of the year. That's a 12-fold increase in out-of-state abortions after September, reports the Hill. The actual number was probably higher as the study only counted visits to 34 of 44 clinics.

The second study, published Feb. 25 in JAMA Network Open, found an average of 1,100 women per month ordered abortion pills online from Aid Access, an overseas service that mails the medications—mifepristone and misoprostol—to patients within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. That's more then triple the number who ordered pills online before the law went into effect, per the Times. Sales are technically illegal but hard to enforce. It's unknown how many of those purchases resulted in an abortion. Overall "the numbers are way bigger than we expected. It's pretty astounding," says Kari White of the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, who is lead researcher on the out-of-state abortion study.

The studies didn't consider women who traveled to other states, ordered abortion pills from online pharmacies that don't publish their sales, or bought over-the-counter pills in Mexico—meaning the drop in abortions since September may be less than 10%. But those behind the Texas law still consider their efforts to be a success. "There's no hesitation from our side to declare this a victory for actually protecting pre-born children from elective abortion," John Seago, legislative director of Texas Right to Life, tells the Times. Traveling out of state may not be realistic in the future with many more states expected to restrict abortion access if the Supreme Court allows it. As the Times notes, "remaining clinics would most likely be overwhelmed with patients." (Read more abortion stories.)

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