A recent report showed that despite COVID-related shutdowns of abortion clinics in Texas, abortions didn’t stop. Instead, there was an increase in second trimester abortions after the ban was lifted and many women also sought abortions out of state. It’s a reminder that abortion will only stop when hearts and minds are changed.
In April, as concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic were reaching an initial peak, the state of Texas made the decision to stop all medical procedures that were not considered “immediately, medically necessary.” That included abortion.
The hope, at least in the pro-life community, was that limiting abortion access would both free up medical supplies and encourage women to seek alternatives, but this latest report from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that for some that wasn’t the case.
According to the report, the number of women seeking abortion out of state jumped from 157 in February to 947 in April, after the ban on all unnecessary medical procedures went into effect. (The order went into effect on March 22, 2020 and ended on April 21, 2020.) Generally, JAMA reports that the number of women seeking an abortion out of state in 2017 ranged from 107 to 165.
The use of the abortion pill also significantly increased from 1808 in April 2020 to 2297 in April 2020, “accounting for 39% and 80% of all abortions, respectively.” There was also a “17.4% difference in the number of medication abortions in April 2020 relative to that expected had the linear trend from January 2019 continued.”
Perhaps the most disturbing trend is the surge in second trimester surgical abortions that happened after the ban was lifted, which grew by 82.6% from 507 in May 2019 to 815 in May 2020. (This information is based on expected linear trends and not on the numbers shown, according to the study.)
The study concludes: “These data show that abortions declined in Texas during the executive order. Stay-at-home orders, facilities’ coronavirus precautions, and patients’ reluctance to seek in-person care may also have contributed to the decline. Other Texas patients traveled out of state or requested medications online. Abortions at 12 weeks’ GA or more increased after the order expired, which likely reflects delays in care among those who waited for an appointment and facilities’ limited capacity to meet backlogged patient need. Although abortions later in pregnancy are very safe, they are associated with a higher risk of complications and may require additional visits compared with those provided earlier in pregnancy.”
For pro-life advocates, this report reveals two things.
The first is that temporarily banning abortions won’t stop women from having abortions. Even with abortion limited in the state, women still went out of state or waited until the ban was lifted to get their abortion. While it is highly likely that the Texas order did result in saving the lives of some preborn babies, it wasn’t entirely effective either. It’s a good reminder that legislation can only change so much, and that abortion will not stop until the hearts and minds of pro-abortion Americans are changed.
The second is that this study also reveals the abortion industry’s growing reliance on the abortion pill, which is reflected in the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abortion surveillance report.
Restrictions due to the COVID pandemic and the decision of one federal judge to lift the usual Food and Drug Administration guidelines for the pill means that its use will only grow this year and in the future as well.
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