The Texas Heartbeat Act, which is also known as Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), is a law banning abortions in the state of Texas as early as six weeks into a pregnancy or after a fetal heartbeat has been detected.
Since the law went into effect on Sept. 1, 2021, Texas women who are seeking abortion services have pursued alternatives, such as traveling to see a doctor out of state.
A recent tweet claims 45% of Texas women seeking abortions traveled to Oklahoma. The tweet has garnered over 2,500 likes since it was posted on April 5.
Did 45% of Texas women who traveled out of state for abortion services go to Oklahoma?
Yes, 45% of Texas women who traveled out of state for abortion services went to Oklahoma.
WHAT WE FOUND
The Texas Policy Evaluation Project is a group of university-based investigators who evaluate the impact of legislation in Texas related to women's reproductive health.
The investigators collected data on the number of Texas women who traveled out of state to receive abortion services in the four months after Texas Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) was enacted into law. They looked at seven states: Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
According to the data, 5,600 pregnant women in Texas traveled to one of the seven states for an abortion in the four months after SB 8 went into effect in September 2021. Kari White, the principal investigator at the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, told VERIFY the state of Oklahoma was the primary place where Texas residents who traveled out of state obtained abortion care.
“Almost half of the Texas residents that we collected information on from those seven states did go to one of the four facilities in Oklahoma to get an abortion,” White said.
The data from the report also show that the number of women who left Texas to receive abortion services between September and December 2021 was more than 10 times what it was during the same four-month period in 2019.
In a policy analysis published in November 2021, the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy organization, said some abortion providers in states bordering Texas reported a “domino effect, in which the influx of patients from Texas has decreased the availability of appointments for in-state residents, pushing some residents to travel out of state for care themselves.”
“Laws like SB 8, that are intended to sharply reduce or eliminate abortion access in a state, do not do anything to change people's need for abortion care, and people are going to try to obtain that healthcare some other way if they aren't able to get it in their state,” White said.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt recently signed a bill that bans abortions in the state. The law, which is set to go into effect in August, makes performing an abortion in the state of Oklahoma illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
On April 28, the Oklahoma House approved a bill to outlaw abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy. That law will take effect as soon as it is signed by Stitt.
Liza Fuentes, a senior research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, told VERIFY the passage of Oklahoma’s bill could mean women in Texas would have to travel even farther to receive abortion services.
“When a place like Texas passes the type of law that SB 8 is, some people are going to have a much higher burden to be able to get the care that they need, and we've seen that by the sheer number of people who've traveled outside of Texas. So with Oklahoma's law, what does that mean? Some people are going to have to travel even farther,” Fuentes said.