Number of Texas abortions dropped after law was in effect, state officials say

Almost 9,000 fewer abortions were performed in Texas in 2014 than the year before, a 14 percent drop, the Department of State Health Services has reported.

According to early estimates by state health officials, 54,191 abortions were performed in Texas in 2014, down from 63,168 in 2013.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of Texas abortion restrictions that have been credited with the decrease in the number of procedures.

The court appeared divided during oral arguments this month in a case challenging Texas’ 2013 abortion restrictions, collectively known as House Bill 2. The law requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of an abortion clinic. A provision that hasn’t taken effect requires clinics to maintain the same standards as hospital-like ambulatory surgical centers. The standards include minimum sizes for rooms and doorways and the number of on-duty nurses required.

While the annual number of abortions performed in Texas has declined in recent years, the new estimates of a 14.2 percent drop offer a glance at abortion rates in the first full year since the requirements on admitting privileges took effect.

More than 40 abortion clinics operated in the state before the Legislature passed HB2 in 2013. Eight clinics closed in anticipation of the law taking effect and 11 clinics closed the day the admitting privileges provision took effect in late 2013, according to lawyers representing the abortion providers suing the state.

Only 19 Texas clinics remain in operation today. If the Supreme Court upholds the state’s abortion law in its entirety, that number could fall to fewer than 10, all in major metropolitan areas.