The abortion ban Texas is debating? It already exists in 12 other states.

July 1, 2013

The Texas Senate will reconvene Monday afternoon to once again take up Senate Bill 5. The measure would, among other things, ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation. While the bill has received nationwide media attention, Texas would not be setting a precedent with its passage. Since 2010, a dozen states have passed similar legislation. You can see them below, in this map:

Nebraska was the first state to pass such legislation in 2010, when it was aiming to push a late-term abortion clinic outside of its state borders. Eleven states have since followed in its footsteps and, if Senate Bill 5 passes, Texas would be the 13th state in the country to do so.

Recent polling suggests that Americans narrowly support banning abortions at 20 weeks, the point in pregnancy that antiabortion advocates say a fetus can experience pain (this claim is disputed). National Journal recently found that 48 percent of Americans agree with these bans, with the highest levels of support coming from Republicans, independents and young people.


Senate Bill 5 includes other abortion restrictions, too. It would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, which could prove a challenge for doctors working in rural areas. The legislation also would require abortion clinics to become certified as surgical centers.

Opponents of Senate Bill 5 contend that under the bill's provisions, only five of Texas' 37 abortion clinics could keep their doors open.

Much like the 20-week ban though, the bill's restrictions are not unprecedented. Five states debated requiring admitting privileges for abortion providers in 2012 and seven in 2013, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Five states passed laws with such provisions within the past two years.

Arizona, Michigan and Virginia took action to regulate abortion clinics as surgical centers in 2012, followed by similar action in Alabama and Indiana.

Texas' 20-week abortion ban would indeed effect more people. But as for setting precedent in abortion restriction, that wouldn't really be the case.

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Brad Plumer | July 1, 2013