School of Medicine Publications and Presentations

Abortion patients' decision making about where to obtain out-of-state care following Texas' 2021 abortion ban

Document Type


Publication Date



Objective: To assess pregnant Texans' decisions about where to obtain out-of-state abortion care following the September 2021 implementation of Senate Bill 8 (SB8), which prohibited abortions after detectable embryonic cardiac activity.

Data source: In-depth telephone interviews with Texas residents ≥15 years of age who obtained out-of-state abortion care after SB8's implementation.

Study design: This qualitative study explored participants' experiences identifying and contacting abortion facilities and their concerns and considerations about traveling out of state. We used inductive and deductive codes in our thematic analysis describing people's decisions about where to obtain care and how they evaluated available options.

Data collection: Texas residents self-referred to the study from flyers we provided to abortion facilities in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. We also enrolled participants from a concurrent online survey of Texans seeking abortion care.

Principal findings: Participants (n = 65) frequently obtained referral lists for out-of-state locations from health-care providers, and a few received referrals to specific facilities; however, referrals rarely included the information people needed to decide where to obtain care. More than half of the participants prioritized getting the soonest appointment and often contacted multiple locations and traveled further to do so; others who could not travel further typically waited longer for an appointment. Although the participants rarely cited state abortion restrictions or cost of care as their main reason for choosing a location, they often made sacrifices to lessen the logistical and economic hardships that state restrictions and out-of-state travel costs created. Informative abortion facility websites and compassionate scheduling staff solidified some participants' facility choice.

Conclusions: Pregnant Texans made difficult trade-offs and experienced travel-related burdens to obtain out-of-state abortion care. As abortion bans prohibit more people from obtaining in-state care, efforts to strengthen patient navigation are needed to reduce care-seeking burdens as this will support people's reproductive autonomy.


Publication Title

Health Services Research



Academic Level


Mentor/PI Department

Obstetrics and Gynecology