Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Texas abortions down, no longer 80,000 a year

A boy holds a sign at the Texas Capitol on July 8, 2013, the same day speakers at an evening rally said Texas has 80,000 abortions a year (Associated Press, Eric Gay).
A boy holds a sign at the Texas Capitol on July 8, 2013, the same day speakers at an evening rally said Texas has 80,000 abortions a year (Associated Press, Eric Gay).

Legislators say it, the governor and PolitiFact Texas too; in a June tweet, we said Rick Perry got it right.

At issue: The claim that 80,000 abortions annually occur in Texas.

After state Sen. Dan Patrick aired the figure in early 2011, we rated his statement as True, reasoning that he was close enough. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 81,591 induced abortions had been reported to the state in 2008 with 78,330 of the abortions performed on Texas residents. Some 82,000 abortions were induced in 2006, the agency said, 77,374 in 2005, 75,053 in 2004, 79,166 in 2003, 79,929 in 2002 and 77,537 in 2001.

But that analysis, and those figures, trace to events some five years ago, with the latest figures compiled by the agency suggesting that 80,000 is no longer right. In August 2012, the agency let it be known that 72,470 abortions occurred in Texas in 2011; that was down from some 77,000 abortions reported for 2010.

Time (sometimes) changes everything.

So our latest Truth-O-Meter article rates as Mostly False a July 9, 2013, claim by state Rep. Jonathan Stickland that more than 80,000 abortions annually take place in Texas. The 80,000-plus count was outdated and high, we concluded, though Stickland’s claim has an element of truth in that the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, a research group focusing on reproductive health issues, has yet to update its survey result indicating that in 2008, 84,000 abortions occurred in the state.

We probably deserve some responsibility for the 80,000 figure sticking around.

For instance, we should have been clear in judging Perry’s June use of the figure by specifying that its accuracy traced to our review from early 2011. We had even cited the lower count in a fact check this February rating as True the claim that abortions are decreasing.

So, Texas has more than 70,000 abortions a year.

We're mindful, too, that the state counts are updated every year.