We’re beginning to quantify the effect of the abortion ban

Three stories from the Chron about abortion and forced births. The first one involves rape victims. Read carefully.

More than 26K rape-related pregnancies estimated after Texas outlawed abortions.

Texas saw an estimated 26,313 rape-related pregnancies during the 16 months after the state outlawed all abortions, with no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

That’s the highest estimate among the 14 states with total abortion bans, with Texas having the largest population, according to the study. The figure helps put the magnitude of the state’s laws into perspective, especially for those who can’t access abortion pills or travel out of state to receive abortion care, said one of the authors, Dr. Kari White of the Texas-based Resound Research for Reproductive Health.

Those estimates “are only going to increase while this total abortion ban is in effect,” White told the Chronicle. “And this really is impacting the people who have survived this experience in really profound ways.”

Following the June 2022 Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the researchers estimated there were 519,981 rapes associated with 64,565 pregnancies during the four to 18 months after states implemented total abortion bans. Of those pregnancies, an estimated 5,586 occurred in states with exceptions for rape and 58,979 in states with no exceptions.

In the five states with rape exceptions, strict gestational limits and requirements to report the rape to law enforcement make it harder for most survivors to qualify, the study said. There were 10 or fewer legal abortions per month in the five states with rape exceptions, the study said, indicating that survivors with access to abortion care still cannot receive it in their home state.

“Politicians use the idea of abortion exceptions to provide political cover, but those so-called exceptions don’t actually help pregnant survivors get the care they need,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Samuel Dickman, said in a news release.


Researchers at Harvard Medical School and The University of California, San Francisco, also carried out the study. They relied on several different sources for their analysis, including survey and crime report data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. They estimated the numbers of girls and women aged 15-45 who had survived rape that could result in pregnancy in each state after the bans took effect, then applied estimates of the pregnancy rate from rape.

The study has its limits. The researchers noted that such “highly stigmatized” experiences are difficult to capture accurately in surveys. They also used sources that contained data from before states implemented abortion bans. The researchers could not analyze trends over time, so it’s also unclear whether the estimates represent an increase from previous years.

Still, the estimates were not entirely surprising, White said, given that sexual assault is common and often goes unreported. “It’s happening in relationships where there is other kinds of reproductive coercion, where people aren’t necessarily able to get contraception,” she said.

I can’t find the press release mentioned above but the study is here and there’s an NPR story that goes into a bit more detail. We can certainly argue about the exact numbers, but there’s no question that the total number of rape victims, including those who are under the age of 18, that are now forced to carry their pregnancies to term is bigger than zero. It’s just a matter of by how much. And it’s likely just a matter of time before some of those rapists sue for custody rights. Oh, and I guess Greg Abbott’s plan to get rid of all the rapists isn’t going as planned. I’m going to say this more than once: This is what the authors of this law wanted. The law is working exactly as planned.

Teen birth rates in Texas rise for first time in 15 years amid abortion ban.

Teen fertility rates in Texas increased for the first time in 15 years in 2022, the year after the state implemented a six-week abortion ban, according to a report published Friday from the University of Houston’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality.

The state’s overall fertility rate, or births per 1,000 women ages 15-44, also rose in 2022 for the first time since 2014, with the sharpest increase among Hispanic women, the report said.

The data offers an early glimpse into the far-reaching effects of Texas abortion laws and helps further illustrate the disproportionate challenges that Hispanic women face when seeking reproductive health care, said Elizabeth Gregory, director of UH Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality. The report also raises important questions about how state laws might affect the workforce and income levels, she said.

“These are big issues that affect people’s lives in major ways,” she said. “It would be worthwhile having a conversation about it because it affects individual lives of the women, of the children, of their partners, but it also affects the wider economy.”

Fertility rates have been dropping in Texas and nationwide since 2007 due in part to increased access to contraceptives and birth control, the report said. In September 2021, however, Texas implemented one of the earliest and most restrictive abortion bans in the country, prohibiting the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UH researchers found that Texas had 16,147 more births in 2022 compared with 2021. Adjusted for a population increase, that represented a 2% increase in fertility rates across all racial groups in Texas and a 2.9% increase in Harris County.

Hispanic women accounted for most of those additional births (13,503), for a fertility rate increase of 5.1% compared to 2021, the report said. The fertility rate among Asian women rose by 0.9%, while Black and white women saw their fertility rates drop by 0.6% and 2%, respectively.


Texas’ steady decline in teen birth rates also ended in 2022, with a slight uptick of .39% across all racial groups. Harris County’s teen birth rate increased by 1.8% in 2022.

The teen birth trend will have short and long-term effects on the regional workforce, the report said. Young parents may drop out of school, leaving them with lower education and skill levels. Many likely will be searching for low-wage jobs, the report said.

“This is potentially a precursor of what data we’ll see next year coming out in relation to 2023 fertility data that will reflect the Dobbs decision,” said Gregory, referring to the June 2022 Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

That study is here. There was an earlier story about this study that didn’t include the teen birth rate. Texas Republicans have also been waging an unrelenting war on access to birth control and women’s health care in general, and when you put it all together this is what you get. Again, working as intended. TPR has an interview with study author Elizabeth Gregory if you want to know more.

This Slate article about how red state Attorneys General, including of course our own Ken Paxton, have vilified pregnant women in court for daring to seek an exception to their state’s forced birth laws, is a couple weeks old now but this feels like the right place to include it.

For many years before S.B. 8 passed in Texas and was then swept into existence by the Supreme Court, and before Dobbs ushered in a more formal regime of forced childbirth six months later, the groups leading the charge against reproductive rights liked to claim that they loved pregnant women and only wanted them to be safe and cozy, stuffed chock-full of good advice and carted around through extra-wide hallways for safe, sterile procedures in operating rooms with only the best HVAC systems. Then Dobbs came down and within minutes it became manifestly clear that these advocates actually viewed pregnant people as the problem standing in the way of imaginary, healthy babies—and that states willing to privilege fetal life would go to any and all lengths to ensure that actual patients’ care, comfort, informed consent, and very survival would be subordinate.

You should read the rest, but be warned, it will make you very, very angry. I’ll say it one more time: These laws are working exactly as intended.

UPDATE: More from the Trib.

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