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UPDATE, 11 a.m., July 11, 2013: More than two years after this fact check was completed, we rated as Mostly False a claim that more than 80,000 abortions annually occur in Texas. This rating traced to state-collected data indicating 72,470 abortions occurred in Texas in 2011, down from some 77,000 abortions reported for 2010. See that full article here. We did not change this Truth-O-Meter story, which reflects abortion counts and other information available at the time Dan Patrick made his claim.
Answering colleagues’ questions about his proposal to require women seeking an abortion to first get a sonogram, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said: "We have 80,000 abortions in Texas every year."
Last month, we rated True Gov. Rick Perry’s statement at a Texas Rally for Life that there have been 50 million abortions nationally since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states cannot prohibit abortions before the point at which a fetus can survive outside a woman’s body. We decided to check Patrick’s statement, too.
Donna Bahorich, a Patrick spokeswoman, pointed us to a web page about abortions in Texas on the Texas Department of State Health Services website.
The Texas Abortion Facility Reporting and Licensing Act requires every abortion facility in the state to submit an annual report to the department on each pregnancy terminated at the facility, according to the page, which was updated in July. In 2007, 81,079 induced abortions were reported to the agency.
Carrie Williams, a DSHS spokeswoman, pointed us to more recent data that showed a slight uptick in abortions in Texas in 2008: 81,591. According to the department, 78,330 of those abortions were performed on Texas residents, and 2,974 were performed on residents from out of state or another country.
Next, we turned to the respected Guttmacher Institute, which studies and advocates on issues related to reproductive health. According to a 2011 fact sheet prepared and posted online by the institute, 579,700 of 5.1 million women of reproductive age in Texas became pregnant in 2008. Seventy percent of those pregnancies resulted in live births, the sheet says, and 15 percent in induced abortions.
That year, the sheet says, 84,610 women obtained abortions in Texas — a rate of 16.5 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. The sheet cautions: "Some of these women were from other states, and some Texas residents had abortions in other states, so this rate may not reflect the abortion rate of state residents." The sheet also says the 2008 Texas abortion rate was down 4 percent from the 2005 rate.
In 2008, according to the institute, abortions in Texas represent 7 percent of all abortions in the United States — 1.2 million American women obtained abortions that year.
Finally, we wondered whether 80,000 abortions are performed in Texas every year, as Patrick says — not just the most recent year.
According to a January Guttmacher report on abortion trends in Texas from 1973-2008, abortions increased from a low of less than 20,000 in 1973 to a peak of more than 100,000 in 1981. The report shows a downward trend since then.
According to the Department of State Health Services, 82,056 induced abortions were reported in 2006, 77,374 in 2005, 75,053 in 2004, 79,166 in 2003, 79,929 in 2002 and 77,537 in 2001.
So, per the latest available data, Patrick is close. We rate his statement as True.
State Sen. Dan Patrick speaking on the Senate floor, Feb. 17, 2011
Texas Legislature Online, SB 16, relating to informed consent to an abortion, accessed Feb. 17, 2011
Guttmacher Institute, State facts about abortion: Texas, accessed Feb. 17, 2011
Guttmacher Institute, Trends in abortion in Texas, 1973-2008, January 2011
Texas Department of State Health Services, Induced terminations of pregnancy, updated July 20, 2010, accessed Feb. 17, 2011
Texas Department of State Health Services, Selected characteristics of induced terminations of pregnancy, updated Dec. 6, 2010, Texas, 2008, accessed Feb. 17, 2011
Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics annual reports, last updated Aug. 4, 2010, accessed Feb. 17, 2011
E-mail interview with Rochelle Tafolla, vice president of marketing and communications, Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, Feb. 17, 2011
Interview with Donna Bahorich, communications director for state Sen. Dan Patrick, Feb. 17, 2011
E-mail interview with Carrie Williams, press officer, Texas Department of Health and Human, Feb. 17, 2011
Interview with Joe Pojman, executive director, Texas Alliance for Life, Feb. 17, 2011
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