WASHINGTON, D.C. — Six months ago today, S.B. 8, Texas’s ban on abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, took effect, prohibiting the majority of Texans from accessing essential health care in their own state. For half a year, Texans have been needlessly suffering, forced to find the time, money, and resources to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles out of state if they can – and if they can’t, forced to carry pregnancies against their will or to seek abortion outside of the health care system.
The impact of this dangerous abortion ban goes far beyond Texas. New data from Planned Parenthood details the devastation caused by S.B. 8 for patients and providers in surrounding states, including Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, and Missouri. The data, which was collected last year between Sept. 1 — when S.B. 8 went into effect — and Dec. 31, shows that Planned Parenthood health centers in these states saw a nearly 800% increase in abortion patients from Texas, compared to the same period in 2020.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Today is a grim and heartbreaking marker for people in Texas and anyone who believes in the right to control their own life, body, and future. For six months, Texans have been denied their fundamental right, living in a state of sustained chaos, crisis, and confusion. This is just the beginning. Across the country, state politicians have continued to gear up for a future without the protections of Roe v. Wade, introducing more than 265 anti-abortion bills in 41 states in 2022 alone. While the landscape for abortion access may soon radically change, we’re not backing down. Planned Parenthood will never stop fighting for the health and rights of our patients, in Texas and across the country. Everyone — no matter where you live or how much money you make — deserves access to health care, free of barriers or political roadblocks.”
Dr. Bhavik Kumar, abortion provider at Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Houston told BNC News:
“It’s been a really difficult six months….We’ve seen thousands of people who still need access to abortion care, and rather than helping them with the skills and training that I have, I’m standing in front of someone and saying that as a physician, I can’t help you because of this law, and instead we’re going to get you from here to another state, where you’re going to get that same care and then come back. But that journey is very difficult for many people navigating work, child care, and the cost of that travel. In the first four months that this law was in effect, we saw an 800% increase in folks from Texas going to neighboring states and getting the care that they needed, so this is really a crisis situation.”
Dr. Alsaden, the medical director of Planned Parenthood of Great Plains, recently told reporters:
“As I’ve watched the direct impact of the cruelty of abortion bans like S.B. 8, I can’t stop thinking about the communities needing care in Oklahoma as they face a potential copycat bill. As we see by the numbers, Oklahoma became a safe place for Texans to get care and continued to be a safe place for Oklahomans to get care. If a copycat bill gets passed, where will the Texans go? Where will the Oklahomans go? This is inhumane – and it is unsustainable.”
- Jezebel: Texans Are Fleeing the State in Droves to Get Abortions
- CNN: Texas abortion seekers flooded out-of-state clinics after six-week ban went into effect, Planned Parenthood records show
Time and again, the U.S. Supreme Court has failed the people of Texas, allowing the chaos to continue with no end in sight and giving other states the green light to circumvent the U.S. Constitution and introduce their own versions of S.B. 8. Already, we’ve seen legislators in more than 10 states push for copycat laws this legislative session, including in Oklahoma, which has absorbed the majority of patients fleeing Texas for care. From Sept. 1 - Dec. 31, 2021, Planned Parenthood health centers in Oklahoma saw a nearly 2500% increase in Texas abortion patients compared to the previous year. During that same time period, abortion patients with Texas zip codes made up more than half of the total number of abortion patients at Oklahoma health centers.
Planned Parenthood and its partners, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the ACLU, the ACLU of Texas, and the Lawyering Project, are still in court fighting S.B. 8. Abortion providers and funds recently held a virtual press conference to report from the front lines after six months of living under S.B.8. A recording is available upon request.
Timeline of Case Against S.B. 8:
- May 19, 2021: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs S.B. 8 into law
- July 13, 2021: Plaintiffs, including all of the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas, filed Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, a challenge to S.B. 8, in federal district court.
- Aug. 30, 2021: Plaintiffs file an emergency request asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block the law before it can take effect on Sept 1.
- Sept. 1, 2021: With no action by the U.S. Supreme Court, S.B. 8 takes effect in Texas banning all abortions after about 6 weeks of pregnancy. Late that same day, the Court denies the emergency request and the case returns to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Oct. 6, 2021: In a separate case filed by the Dept. of Justice, a federal district court judge temporarily blocked the law. The state appealed this injunction to the Fifth Circuit, which allowed the law to take effect again just two days later.
- Oct. 22, 2021: The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and Dept. of Justice’s case, U.S. v. Texas.
- Nov. 1, 2021: The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and U.S. v. Texas.
- Dec. 10, 2021: In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court again refuses to block S.B. 8 and greenlights the bounty-hunting scheme in other states. The Court dismisses most of the plaintiffs’ claims but allows a narrow part of Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson to continue against licensing officials in district court. The U.S. Supreme Court reverses its decision to review U.S. v. Texas, effectively leaving in place the Fifth Circuit’s decision that had reinstated S.B. 8.
- Jan. 3, 2022: Plaintiffs in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson file a petition for mandamus, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to order the Fifth Circuit to return the case to district court immediately so that claims against state licensing officials can proceed.
- Jan. 17, 2022: The Fifth Circuit certifies S.B. 8 case to Texas Supreme Court, asking that court to rule only on whether the remaining defendants—various state licensing officials—have authority to indirectly enforce S.B. 8, or whether claims against those officials, too, must be dismissed. This certification order defies the December order from SCOTUS to send what was left of the case back to district court where it belongs for resolution of the remaining claims.
- Jan. 20, 2022: The U.S. Supreme Court rejects plaintiffs’ mandamus petition, again refusing to intervene and order the Fifth Circuit to send the case back to district court for resolution.
- Feb. 24, 2022: The Texas Supreme Court hears oral arguments on whether the case can proceed against the remaining defendants, who are state licensing officials, in federal district court. There is no deadline for that court to rule.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.