Since the implementation of sonogram laws in the state of Texas two years ago, Texas clinics have performed 10 percent to 15 percent fewer abortions. Researchers at Ibis Reproductive Health, the University of Texas, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham conducted a study aimed at “improv[ing] women’s reproductive autonomy,” which shows a reduction in abortions since the state enacted strict requirements for women seeking abortions.
The study claims that abortions are reduced because of economic hurdles, not because women changed their minds after seeing sonograms of their unborn children and discussing abortion with their doctors. LifeSiteNews reported, “Researchers actually credit the obstacles with the reduction in abortion and say it isn’t related to women changing their minds, but just to the difficulties they face in obtaining an abortion.”
But such a conclusion supposes that a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and an ultrasound are onerous requirements to obtain elective surgery. LifeSiteNews observed, “Rarely, if ever, does anyone have same-day surgery in this nation unless its emergency surgery.”
Those opposed to the laws pertaining to abortion in Texas begrudge the average wait after seeing a doctor until the abortion, a wait that averages 3.7 days.
Dr. Daniel Grossman, one of the researchers in the study, noted, “Our findings so far indicate these regulations do not positively impact women’s decision-making and, in fact, are burdensome for women. There has been an overall decline nationally in abortions. But this appears to be more pronounced.”
The findings, according to the researchers, reveal that the Texas law discourages abortions because it costs the women more money by mandating two doctor visits. The findings state that the two doctor visits, in addition to the miles traveled, which is an average of 84 miles round-trip, plus the cost of childcare and lost wages is approximately $146. The researchers point to this data as proof that the law burdens women seeking abortion.
But the intent of the law was to reduce abortions, according to Texas Governor Rick Perry. He told a pro-life group in January, “The ideal world is one without abortion. Until then, we will continue to pass laws to ensure that they are rare as possible.”
Texas law, enacted in 2011, requires women seeking abortions to hear a doctor’s description of sonogram images, wait 24 hours and then return for the procedure, with exceptions for cases of rape and incest. The law was passed with two-thirds majority support in both chambers, with similar versions of the law having been adopted in 29 other states.
But some Texas lawmakers are interested in overturning the law.
"It's just ridiculous that we do things to women to manipulate their minds instead of just trusting that they've already made a very difficult decision," said Rep. Jessica Farrar, a Democrat from Houston. "Unfortunately, it has been a political issue. It has won people campaigns."
She believes that the state should focus instead on preventing unwanted pregnancies, though how it would do so is unclear.
Meanwhile, those who support the law point to the study’s flaws.
Joe Pojman, executive director of the anti-abortion group Texas Alliance for Life, indicated that the study “fails to report any interviews of women who had a consultation with the physician who would perform the abortion and decided not to have an abortion.”
The study does indicate that 89 percent of the women in the study remained confident in their decision to have an abortion after their consultation visits, without accounting for the rest of the women in the study.
"We believe many of these women may have responded that they were grateful for the opportunity to talk with the physician," he said. "Many of those women may have chosen to give birth to their child because of that conversation."