Texas Abortion Ban Saves 10,000 Lives So Far

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have concluded that the Texas abortion ban, enacted in 2021, has contributed to almost 10,000 extra live births in the state. The study found that from April to December 2022, the ban resulted in a sharp increase in births that, according to researchers, would not have transpired had the law not been in place.

This increase is a direct result of legislation that forbids abortions upon detection of embryonic cardiac activity, commonly known as a “fetal heartbeat.” This can be detected as early as five to six weeks into pregnancy, far earlier than the previous law’s 22-week gestation limit. Texas is one of several states that adopted a “trigger law” in anticipation of a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. In June 2022, that expectation became a reality with the landmark Dobbs v. Jackson decision, returning the authority to regulate abortions back to the states.

In their study, the researchers used a synthetic model of Texas based on live birth data from all states and the District of Columbia from prior years. They compared this hypothetical state to the real-life birth data, revealing a difference of 9,799 births. Had the ban not been in effect, their model predicted 287,289 births from April to December 2022. In reality, Texas reported 297,088 live births.

These figures demonstrate the practical outcomes of abortion restrictions, shedding light on the real-world impact of such legislation. In the words of Susan Bell, an assistant professor at the Bloomberg School’s Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, “The study’s findings highlight how abortion bans have real implications for birthing people, thousands of whom may have had no choice but to continue an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy to term.”

The conclusion drawn by this research underscores the tangible effects of such policy shifts, specifically a marked increase in live births. However, it is critical to note the unique nature of these findings as they are specific to Texas and cannot be applied uniformly across the nation.

This landmark law has resulted in significant societal change within Texas. While critics argue that it imposes an undue hardship on pregnant individuals, many conservative supporters view it as a victory for the pro-life movement, favoring the protection of unborn lives.

Indeed, the Supreme Court decision and the Texas law that preempted it have ushered in a new era of state-level abortion regulation. Leading the way, Texas has demonstrated that such laws can profoundly impact population growth. However, the full ramifications, both social and economic, of these additional births remain to be fully understood. Future research is required to assess this and similar laws’ impact fully.