AUSTIN, Texas, July 6, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – While a U.S. Supreme Court decision last week that struck down a pro-life law in Texas appeared to be a setback, the state’s Health Department recently released statistics that showed the number of abortions dropped nearly 15 percent in one year.
The decline coincides with the 2013 Texas pro-life law (House Bill 2) that was designed to protect women in cases of botched abortions. It included a requirement for surgical abortion businesses to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and banned most abortions after 20 weeks (which will remain in effect). It also directed abortion facilities to meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgical center.
The Supreme Court overturned the law in a 5-3 vote on June 27, simultaneously striking down similar laws in Alabama, Mississippi, and Wisconsin.
The abortion rate had previously fallen in Texas, from 81,591 in 2008 to 63,849 in 2013. But by far the biggest drop came in the first full year after HB 2 was passed, going from 63,849 in 2013 to 54,902 in 2014.
At the same time, the number of abortion centers in Texas plummeted from 41 to 19 that are currently operating mostly in metropolitan areas, likely contributing to the decrease in reported abortions. If the Supreme Court had upheld the law and it had been fully implemented to include adherence to increased safety requirements, the number of facilities would have dwindled to 10.
Texas Alliance for Life, which was heavily involved in HB 2, released a statement saying, “While dismissed by abortion providers in Texas as unnecessary, the state’s safety inspection reports of several abortion facilities run by the lead plaintiff, Whole Woman’s Health, show numerous serious violations of current law that endanger the health and safety of tens of thousands every year, including the repeated failure to properly sterilize surgical instruments used from woman to woman.”
Dr. Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, commented, “We are very disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision. The State of Texas will be unable to fully implement HB 2’s common sense regulations to protect the health and safety of women at substandard abortion facilities. Our work to protect mothers and unborn babies from abortion will continue.”
Texas Right to Life's Emily Horne was encouraged by the decline in surgical abortions in the state. “Texas Right to Life is incredibly uplifted by the 9,000 lives saved in 2014. This drop in abortions occurred while much of our landmark Pro-Life law HB 2 was in effect.”
Horne also told LifeSiteNews, “One portion of HB 2, the Preborn Pain ban, prohibited abortions on children after 20 weeks of pregnancy due to the child's ability to feel pain. It is important to note that that portion of the law was never challenged, and continues to save lives, alongside the Texas Sonogram Law. In 2014, the Preborn Pain ban resulted in reducing abortions after twenty weeks from 280 children to 20.”
“While a significant portion of HB 2 will not remain in effect, and the abortions in Texas will fluctuate, Texas Right to Life is encouraged at the many pro-life laws in effect in Texas, and will continue to work to increase protections for preborn children, as well as the elderly and disabled in Texas.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said there are thousands of children alive because of the law’s positive impact. Calling the abortion rate drop “great news,” Patrick commented, “That's twenty more thousand children who are alive today, and this Supreme Court wants to turn that back?”
“If a result of my sonogram bill passing in 2011, and HB 2 passing in 2013, which protected woman's health and safety, resulted in the saving of thousands of innocent babies, then that is something everyone should celebrate.” He then reiterated, “Today, there are thousands of 2- and 3-year-olds, smiling and laughing and enjoying life because of these two bills.”
Overall, the number of abortions is also dropping nationwide. The Associated Press reports that U.S. abortions fell 12 percent since 2010.
Meanwhile, Wendy Davis, a state senator who attacked the law with an unsuccessful filibuster that garnered national coverage, commented on the Texas Health Department report, arguing that the dramatic drop in the abortion rate shows how bad the law was for women. Campaigning for U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Davis told reporters, “I feel vindicated on behalf of the women who have been denied access to abortion care in our state.”
Davis characterized the law as “harming women's health by closing off their access to a constitutionally protected right.” She said abortionists “immediately regrouped and raised the resources” to reopen in south Texas and west Texas.
But abortion remains dangerous. One study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology found the complication rate is five percent for surgical abortions and 20 percent for medical RU-486 abortions, even when performed in hospitals.