Skip to main content

Study Shows Hispanic Women Especially Affected by Texas 2021 Abortion Law

Hispanic Women 25 and Older Experience Marked Rise in Births

By Sally Strong 713-743-1530

In a newly released report on 2022 fertility trends after Texas’ 2021 six-week abortion ban, the University of Houston’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality ( IRWGS) found that Hispanic women in Texas and Harris County saw markedly larger increases in births and fertility rates in 2022 than women of other backgrounds. Hispanic women aged 25 to 44 were most affected. 13,503 of the state’s additional 16,147 births in 2022 (over 2021) were to Hispanic women.

The state’s controversial 2021 abortion ban forbid virtually all pregnancy terminations after six-weeks of pregnancy – which is often before a woman knows she is pregnant. Effects of the ban on fertility began to be visible in 2022, and this report draws on CDC fertility analyses made public in October 2023.

Texas’ abortion policy remains one of the strictest in the U.S. Opposing opinions continue to spark debate within the state and across the country. Photo credit: Cotorreando / Getty Images

“The results don’t signal that individuals of other groups are unaffected by the abortion ban, but they indicate that Hispanic women as a group are facing more challenges in accessing reproductive care, including both contraception and abortion,” said Elizabeth Gregory, IRWGS director. “Unplanned births often directly impact women’s workforce participation and negatively affect the income levels of their families.” 

The study revealed that while the overall Texas fertility rate rose 2%, that averages out to a 5.1% rise among Hispanic women and a 0.9% rise among non-Hispanic Asians with declines of -0.6% for non-Hispanic Black women and -2% to non-Hispanic white women. Among Hispanic women 25 and older, fertility rates rose 8% in the state and 8.5% in Harris County.

“2% may look relatively modest. But once we examined more deeply, and sorted results by age and race/ethnicity, the differences started looking stark,” Gregory said.

The outcomes are influenced by two contrasting realities. Texas’ tightened restrictions on abortions under the six-week ban, enacted on Sept. 1, 2021 and affecting births starting in early 2022, have the potential to drive birth rates up, while expanded access to contraceptives in some parts of the community has the potential to drive birth rates down.

“Travel to access abortion in other states requires money, time off work and in many cases childcare. The need to care for children already at home might be a key factor in the rising birth rates among women 25 and older,” Gregory said.

Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June 2022, Texas instituted a second, total abortion ban (effective Aug. 25, 2022) and 20 additional states have instituted bans, including several of Texas’ neighbors. The geography of bans means that Texans seeking abortions now may have to travel further than before, and an even larger rise in fertility rates is expected when the 2023 data is published. Those statistics are also likely to show variation by race/ethnicity.

Among other findings, the study found a slight increase – by 0.39% – in Texas teen births, reversing the state’s steady teen birth rate decline since 2007 (which totaled 67.2% over 14 years). Broken out by race/ethnicity, the 2022 fertility rate continued to decline among white teens while showing small increases among Hispanic, Black and Asian teens.

Gregory is available for interview with journalists interested in closer examination of the newly released Texas & Harris County Reproductive Health Update: 2022 Fertility Rates, Post 2021 Six-Week Abortion Ban study.

Top Stories