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Activists believe decline in abortions following Heartbeat Bill does not reflect demand, others disagree

Political experts said Texas and surrounding states are likely to restrict or ban abortions altogether if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

SHREVEPORT, La. — As the fate of a landmark abortion ruling remains unclear, those for and against the procedure believe actions taken by Texas woman after the Heartbeat Bill passed hint at two very different outcomes.

With the potential of Roe vs. Wade being overturned, political experts said Texas and surrounding states are likely to restrict or ban abortions altogether.

Abortion rights advocates believe restrictive laws won't stop abortions, but will lead to women practicing unsafe ones. Those against are hoping women will begin to seek out options, such as adoption, when facing an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.

Since the Heartbeat Bill passed into law in September of 2021, the number of abortions in Texas has plummeted. However, experts said this does not mean the demand is going down.

Experts said Texas women have been travelling to neighboring states to have abortions done. One of the states that has seen an influx in Texas woman seeking abortions is Louisiana.

“By the end of September, we received 37% Texas residents,” Kathleen Pittman, administrator at Hope Medical Group for Women in Louisiana, said. “It got as high at one time as right at 70-73% Texas."

Testimony from Texas women matched Pittman's numbers. Multiple Texas women said they drove for hours to have a safe abortion.

At the clinic's peak, Pittman said heir waiting room had more than 70% of it's patients from Texas.

“The influx of Texas patients caused more Louisiana women to have to go further afield to seek care,” Pittman said.

To cope with the sudden increase, the Hope Medical Group started to see people in order of their arrival. Pittman said she and her staff have to be adaptable.

Pittman said the changing workflow is a reflection of the changing laws.

“We saw the first stuff, the trap laws, which targeted regulation of abortion providers started coming out I think in the mid to late 90s in Louisiana," Pittman said. "Since then, it's been one regulation one new law every year.”

Pittman said when she started at the clinic in 1992, it was one of 11 clinics in the state. Now, they are one of only three.

“The clinics are just basically jammed right now,” Pittman said.

According to Mary Castle with Texas Values, the clinics do not have to be packed. Texas Values is an advocacy group that was a key player in getting the Heartbeat Bill passed.

"It's heartbreaking that you know, someone would go that great of length to kill their unborn child," Castle said.

Castle wants soon-to-be mother's to know there are options other than abortions.

“We are seeing a great reduction in abortions,” Castle said. “We're seeing more activity at pregnancy resource centers, and we're seeing conversations change as well.”

Castle said in the two months after the law was signed in 2021, pregnancy resource centers in the state of Texas saw a 41% increase in clients and a 61% higher demand for adoption services.

“We're hoping that women, when they hear that abortion is no longer legal in the state, we're hoping that their first response is to think about the life inside them and think about the resources out there for them," Castle said. 

Pittman believes the trend is telling a different story.  Pittman does not believe restrictive laws stop abortions. 

"It will make women stop having safe abortions," Pittman said. 

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