ARKANSAS, USA — Arkansas and Oklahoma are seeing an increase in abortion patients from Texas.
Senate Bill 8 went into effect in Texas on Sept. 1, 2021, which is a law that forbids abortion, except to save the mother's life, once an ultrasound can detect motion in the fetal heart. This happens in week six of pregnancy, which is only four weeks after conception.
“We going to see an influx of pregnant people from Texas right now,” Jill Lens, University of Arkansas Robert A. Leflar Law Professor. “Because practically speaking there’s no ability to get an abortion there after 6 weeks, right now.”
Planned Parenthood Great Plains provides services in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Vice President of Community Relations and Strategic Partnerships, Heather Palacios says Arkansas and Oklahoma usually see women cross state lines to get an abortion, but never this many.
“We have seen well over 500 patients from Texas, just this year alone,” Palacios said.“Patients are coming to us, they’re scared, they’re frustrated, disappointed that their own state has failed them in such a way."
An increase in abortions from last year, which was around 250 patients.
Texans can come to Arkansas because of a preliminary injunction that blocked Arkansas’ near-total abortion ban bill introduced this year. However, that injunction is only temporary.
“We’re still later going to have a full trial at the district court to figure out if the law is unconstitutional and it does appear to be,” Lens said. She also expects to see challenges for the Texas bill.
“It’s essentially depriving pregnant people of their constitutional right because of how it is enforced,” Lens said. “Some court is really going to take that on substantively and tell us whether that’s OK.”
As for now, she expects to see people continue to cross state lines to have this procedure done.
Planned Parenthood says the majority of these patients are going to Oklahoma.