More than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, with more than a dozen states dropping abortion providers to zero, pregnant women face a dramatically changed landscape of challenges and choices. rice field.
But it has been difficult for researchers to directly measure the exact impact of this decision, especially regarding the central question of how many more babies will be born as a result of abortion bans.
On Thursday, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health announced one of the first serious attempts to find that answer. They focused on Texas, where a law that took effect in September 2021, nine months before the Dobbs Court ruling, effectively banned six-week abortions. The analysis found that the state had nearly 10,000 more births, or 3 percent more, than expected without the law between April and December last year.
The findings are heartening to anti-abortion opponents and may suggest that a staggering number of pregnancies that would not have been possible had it not been for a law known as Senate Bill 8, reaching full term. be.
Researchers observing new abortion bans across the country expect births to rise as a result, but probably not by much.
“It appears to have demonstrated that the number of births in Texas has increased more than we expected,” said Caitlin Myers, an economics professor at Middlebury University who studies abortion but was not involved in the study. Stated. “The less reluctant reasoning I make at this point is that all of these excess births are to blame for SB 8. Some may, but not all. I think it’s just too expensive.”
The authors of the study, published as Two-page research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical AssociationIt is also not possible to take the view that the estimated increase in the number of births is solely due to an unusual law allowing civil action against those who assist in abortion after fetal heart activity has begun (usually about 6 weeks). I didn’t. The results suggest, at least, “not everyone who might have had an abortion in the absence of SB8 failed to have it,” the researchers wrote.
Still, the authors were confident in their methods and results.
“This pattern was unique to Texas,” said Alison Gemmill, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and one of the study’s researchers. He said the research team looked at each of the other 49 states and Washington, D.C., and found no evidence of a difference from expected births. If there is any other explanation for this increase, it would have to be specific to Texas and the period after the SB Section 8 abortion law went into effect, she added.
Delays in obtaining detailed birth data have made it difficult for researchers to quantify the impact of abortion bans.
In other states where abortion bans came into effect after the June 2022 Dobbs decision, researchers are still collecting vital statistics to study the effects of the new bans on births. These bans were expected to have a greater impact on abortion seekers than Texas’ SB8 law. Because many of them ban all abortions and have been introduced in many neighboring states, making it difficult for women to travel. I will go to another state for the procedure.
A study released Thursday looked at data going back to 2016, but relied on preliminary birth data for 2022 because more complete data were unavailable. This did not include demographic information that could be used to make comparisons with previous years, such as maternal age or race, or to understand other factors that may have played a role.
The researchers then created a statistical model of what Texas would have looked like without abortion laws. This allowed us to estimate the number of births that would occur in that case.
“It’s an indirect way of measuring what we can’t measure,” said Jemil. “We don’t know the decisions behind whether people wanted an abortion or they couldn’t.”
Widespread changes in fertility complicates the work of researchers.The number of births has been declining in recent years in texas, and across America, the trend has been exacerbated in the midst of the Covid emergency. But Texas has seen an increase in births since the pandemic, with about 389,000 births last year, down from 398,000 in 2016, but higher than the number recorded in 2020. .
Myers said other factors, such as an increase in the number of births to foreign-born mothers, many of them in Texas, may have contributed to the increase in fertility trends during this period. Ms Jemil said that without detailed demographic data on births in 2022, it is difficult to measure the factor.
Despite new restrictions under SB 8, many Texas women still get abortions before the six-week deadline, travel out of state for surgery, or take their own abortion pills. I had an abortion. Mail-order pills have flooded Texas, and some Texans have been able to get abortions in Mexico.
Still, anti-abortion activists took the Johns Hopkins study as evidence that the success of strict abortion restrictions in Texas had the desired effect: an increase in full-term pregnancies.
“Every baby rescued from elective abortion should be celebrated!” said John Seago, president of Texas Light to Life, in a statement. “This new research highlights the tremendous success of our movement over the past two years, and we look forward to helping mothers and families across the state take care of their children.”