With the passage of Senate Bill 8 and the Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, Texans are mobilizing to secure their reproductive rights. Committed to ensuring that evidence is part of the discussion, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project at the University of Texas-Austin is a multidisciplinary team of researchers who evaluate – in real time – the impact of Texas’ legislation related to contraception and abortion.
For example, TxPEP’s analysis showed that while the number of abortions carried out in Texas dropped by about half in the months after Senate Bill 8 went into effect, many people found other ways to end their pregnancies by traveling out of state or self-managing their care. This finding tracks with data from around the world showing that laws intended to restrict abortions do not lower abortion rates, though they do exacerbate hardships for people needing care and lead some to resort to methods that are less safe.
TxPEP is also tracking where Texans obtain out-of-state care – for example, in the months after Senate Bill 8 went into effect, TxPEP learned that three-quarters of those traveling out of state received abortion care in either Oklahoma or New Mexico. TxPEP documented the challenges that these Texans face through a series of in-depth interviews, including difficulties in getting appointments and traveling long distances. Further, TxPEP learned that those experiencing dangerous pregnancy complications or serious medical conditions reported that their healthcare providers were reluctant to offer information about out-of-state options for abortion care. TxPEP’s findings have been shared widely, and are equipping communities, clinicians and decision makers in their work to ensure reproductive rights for all Texans.
With support from the Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation, TxPEP is deepening relationships with advocates and grassroots leaders and developing a community advisory board to inform its research. In addition, TxPEP is expanding the scope of its analyses, such as documenting adverse health outcomes among those denied care as a result of the narrow exemptions in Texas’ laws. According to Dr. Kari White, Principal Investigator of TxPEP, “We’ll continue to generate knowledge that informs evidence-based policies that promote more equitable reproductive healthcare for all Texans.”