Texas abortion counts vary by, oh, a gazillion percent
By Meghan Ashford-Grooms
Published on Friday, February 18th, 2011 at 10:40 a.m.
When it comes to abortion-related policies, politicians come armed with statistics. But that doesn’t mean they always agree.
On Thursday, two state senators sent up wildly conflicting numbers on abortions in Texas.
While answering questions about his proposal requiring Texas women seeking an abortion to get a sonogram first, GOP Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston said that "we have 80,000 abortions in Texas every year."
As we checked into that figure, we were surprised to hear Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, proclaim a higher — much higher — count during Senate debate of Patrick’s measure. "The fact is statistics don’t lie," Lucio said. "There are literally millions of abortions going on each year in our own state."
Eh? Which is it — 80,000 or millions? It seemed that one statistic couldn't be right.
Not long after touching base with Lucio’s office to ask about his statement, we saw the senator again rise to speak on the Senate floor. "I’d like to make a correction for the sake of clarity," he said.
Walking back his statement that "millions of abortions" take place in Texas each year, Lucio said that he had earlier misspoken. He said he had been trying to recall a PolitiFact Texas Truth-O-Meter article on a Jan. 22 statement made by Gov. Rick Perry that there have been 50 million abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. We rated Perry’s reference to the national count True after we examined data from the Guttmacher Institute, a respected source for information on issues related to reproductive health.
On the Senate floor, Lucio told colleagues that when he mentioned "millions of abortions," he was "alluding to" the number of abortions that have taken place nationwide since 1973. "I apologize to the press if they felt I might have misled anybody, because that … certainly was not my intent," Lucio said.
Did Patrick’s Texas number hold up? Yep. We rated his statement True after finding that according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were 81,591 abortions in Texas in 2008, the most recent year for which state data are available. The Guttmacher Institute’s research also supports Patrick’s statement; it says 84,610 women obtained abortions in Texas in 2008.
Texas Senate session, Feb. 17, 2011
PolitiFact Texas, "State Sen. Dan Patrick says 80,000 abortions are performed in Texas every year," Feb. 18, 2011
PolitiFact Texas, "Rick Perry says there have been 50 million abortions since Roe," Feb. 1, 2011
Researchers: Meghan Ashford-Grooms
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