Infant mortality in Texas spiked following state's 'heartbeat bill' abortion ban, study finds

In 2022, infant deaths in Texas jumped by 13%, significantly higher than the national average.

click to enlarge Women march for abortion rights in San Antonio following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. - Jaime Monzon
Jaime Monzon
Women march for abortion rights in San Antonio following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The passage of one of Texas' ultra-restrictive abortion laws precipitated a big increase in infant deaths, according to a study published Monday by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The analysis published in the peer-reviewed JAMA Pediatrics medical journal compared infant deaths in Texas to those in 28 other states — some with abortion restrictions of their own — the year following the implementation of Senate Bill 8.

Also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, SB 8 banned abortions in the Lone Star State after a fetus' heartbeat could be detected. This usually occurs five to six weeks after conception — a time before many people are aware that they're pregnant.

Researchers found that in 2022, infant deaths in Texas jumped by 13%, while infant deaths nationally only increased by about 2%. What's more, babies who died in Texas due to birth defects jumped by 23% following the passing of SB 8.

It's worth noting that the earliest time a fetus can be tested for a deadly congenital disability is around 10 to 12 weeks, or well after the limitations imposed by the Heartbeat Act, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The infant mortality rate in Texas may have only worsened since the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade two years ago.

Under current Texas law, pregnant people can only obtain abortions if, "in the exercise of reasonable medical judgment," a doctor believes the patient is at risk of death or "substantial impairment of a major bodily function."

Otherwise, the punishment for someone found guilty of performing an abortion in Texas is life in prison.

The Texas Tribune reported this week that a monthly average of five women received abortions in Texas since passage of the law, a 200% monthly decline since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Subscribe to SA Current newsletters.

Follow us: Apple News | Google News | NewsBreak | Reddit | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter| Or sign up for our RSS Feed


Since 1986, the SA Current has served as the free, independent voice of San Antonio, and we want to keep it that way.

Becoming an SA Current Supporter for as little as $5 a month allows us to continue offering readers access to our coverage of local news, food, nightlife, events, and culture with no paywalls.

Join today to keep San Antonio Current.

Scroll to read more Texas News articles

Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.