Jun 6, 2022 - News

Texas unprepared for a post-Roe baby boom

Share of counties that are maternity care deserts, by state
Data: March of Dimes; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Texas and other red states that are poised to ban or limit abortion already tend to have limited access to health care, poor health outcomes and few safety-net programs for mothers and children.

Why it matters: If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, as it's expected to, the ensuing increase in births will likely leave families with tough circumstances and strain systems already hanging by a thread.

  • Texas' so-called "trigger law," which would make abortions a felony, would go into effect 30 days after Roe is repealed.

Where it stands: Experts say there's already a shortage of obstetricians.

  • In 2018, the number of Central Texas obstetricians and gynecologists met only 84% of demand, per state estimates.
  • Yes, but: In our region, that number is expected to reach nearly 90% by 2032.

By the numbers: In 2019, there were more than 57,000 abortions in Texas, according to the CDC. About 378,000 babies were born in the state that year.

Between the lines: Experts say abortion bans would also likely put more pressure on foster and adoption systems.

  • More than 2,000 children in Central Texas were in foster care at the end of the most recent fiscal year — including at least 460 in Travis County, per the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

What they’re saying: An increase in births that would have otherwise not occurred "almost certainly means more foster children," said Richard Shannon, chief quality officer at Duke Health. And while the foster care system is "a vital social service, it is in desperate need of further improvement and will only be stressed by an increase in pregnancies and live births among moms who can't take care of their kids."


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