Texas Lawmaker Plans Bill To Overturn Pre-Abortion Waiting Period Law in Light of New Research

March 7, 2013 — A 2011 Texas law mandating a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion is emotionally harmful to some women, but it has not led women seeking abortions to change their minds about wanting the procedure, according to a study presented on Wednesday by a lawmaker seeking to overturn the restrictions, the AP/San Antonio Express-News reports (Brick, AP/San Antonio Express-News, 3/6).

At a news conference, state Rep. Jessica Farrar (D) -- chair of the Texas House Women's Health Caucus -- said she plans to file legislation this week to repeal the waiting period law, which also requires doctors to perform an ultrasound, describe the fetus and give the woman the option to hear the fetal heartbeat before providing an abortion.

Key Findings

Farrar cited data from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, a three-year study that examined the impact of the waiting period and other state legislation regarding women's health (Aaronson, Texas Tribune, 3/6). Researchers surveyed more than 300 women who had sought abortions in Texas last year.

Nearly one-third of the women surveyed said the waiting period negatively affected their "emotional well-being," but 89% of respondents remained committed to their decision to obtain an abortion, the study found (AP/San Antonio Express-News, 3/6). Nearly half of the women reported paying more -- $146 on average -- for extra transportation, child care and other arrangements to comply with the 24-hour waiting period (Texas Tribune, 3/6).

Overall, researchers reported a 10% to 15% decline in the number of abortions performed in the year after the law was enacted. Daniel Grossman -- a researcher with Ibis Reproductive Health, which was involved with the study -- attributed the decline to new logistical obstacles for patients, rather than the emotional impact of the waiting period and ultrasound (AP/San Antonio Express-News, 3/6).


The study "highlights how particularly cruel it is to put these restrictions on abortion care while at the same time cutting family planning services that could prevent these unwanted pregnancies," Grossman said, referencing family planning cuts enacted in 2011. In the three months before they became pregnant, 45% of women reported difficulties accessing birth control, either because of cost, lack of insurance or trouble finding a clinic, he said.

Although Farrar "is not expecting a miracle with her bill," she feels it is important to put some pressure on state lawmakers and try to urge them to restore family planning funding, according to the Dallas Morning News' "Trail Blazers Blog." She said, "It's just ridiculous that we do things to women to manipulate their minds instead of trusting that they already made a very difficult decision" (Cardona, "Trail Blazers Blog," Dallas Morning News, 3/6).