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The Brief: Statistics Show Drop in Texas Abortions

The number of drug-induced abortions performed in the state fell sharply in the first full year after the enactment of a controversial 2013 abortion law, parts of which were struck down this week.

Lauren Baker (right) of Plano and Mary Baumgard of Minnesota held signs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court March 2, 2016, as the court arguments in a case on a Texas abortion law.

The Big Conversation

Three days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down more stringent regulations of abortion facilities imposed by Texas lawmakers in 2013, the Texas Department of State Health Services released statistics showing that the number of drug-induced abortions performed in the state fell sharply in the first full year after the law went into effect.

As the Tribune’s Alexa Ura, Aneri Pattani and Annie Daniel report, the significant drop in drug-induced, or 'medical,' abortions — to 4,938 in 2014 from 16,189 in 2013 — appears to have partly driven the overall drop. The overall number of abortions dropped to 54,902 in 2014 — down from 63,849 in 2013,” representing a 14 percent decrease.

“The 2014 data is of particular interest to both sides in the abortion debate because it details abortions in the first full year during which parts of HB 2 were implemented, Ura, Pattani and Daniel write. It also reflects details of abortions performed in Texas as the number of clinics performing the procedure dropped significantly.”

Among other points, the data show that few abortions resulted in complications, and Hispanic women were disproportionately affected by changes to abortion restrictions in Texas.

Lt. Gov Dan Patrick praised the statistics at a Lubbock radio station on Thursday, saying that everyone, even if you're pro-choice, you ought to be celebrating life.

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: No Political Benefit if Voters Can't Feel Tax Relief, by Ross Ramsey — Texas lawmakers want to get a leash on property taxes, which requires them to restrain local governments. The local governments point to expensive state government mandates that drive up their costs. It's hard to fix blame, or credit.

More Lawmakers Call on Texas to Postpone Therapy Cuts, by Edgar Walters — With two weeks to go before Texas is set to slash a program's funding that pays for therapy services for children with disabilities, therapy providers are announcing new support from state lawmakers to postpone the cuts.

Abortion Ruling Leads Texas Politics News (Video), by Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn — In the Roundup: The High Court overturns the state’s abortion regulations, the Texas Attorney General weighs in on the Fort Worth superintendent’s transgender policy and a new poll shows a little promise for the Clinton campaign in Texas.

Pentagon Lifts Ban on Transgender Troops, by Isabelle Taft — U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced Thursday that the Pentagon is lifting its ban on transgender troops. While some Texas lawmakers have raised concerns, transgender Texan service members and LGBT advocates are cheering.

In Time for Shark Week, Texas Fin Ban Takes Effect, by Madeline Conway — A ban on the trade of shark fins in Texas goes into effect Friday — just in time for the popular string of Discovery Channel programming known as “Shark Week.”

Paxton Drops Challenge as Exxon Mobil Probe Shifts, by Khorri Atkinson — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his Alabama counterpart have dropped their legal bid to squelch a U.S. Virgin Islands investigation of Exxon Mobil after the U.S. territory agreed to with draw a subpoena for company documents.


(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Texas GOP leaders ask state agencies to propose 4-percent budget cuts, The Dallas Morning News

Ken Paxton loses another round in criminal case, Austin American-Statesman

Former prosecutor’s case shows underbelly of war on drugs, San Antonio Express-News

Domestic violence: New laws, same old cycleAustin American-Statesman

Cruz clashes with DHS secretary over terror labelsPolitico

Audit: State health department didn’t double-check $7 million in bills, Austin American-Statesman

Dallas DA candidate denies knowledge of bribe; possibility of wider federal probe looms, The Dallas Morning News

Under pressure from liberal activists, Castro changes bad-mortgage program, San Antonio Express-News

Baylor College of Medicine to study Zika patients, The Associated Press

'We're not alone': Survey shows more transgender Texans OK with coming out, The Dallas Morning News

Family of Austin teen killed by police sues city, ex-officer, The Associated Press

What's in a name? Tourism and business growth, City Councilman saysHouston Chronicle

Border agency clears employees in 4 shooting incidents, The Associated Press

High-profile Trump fan is daughter of man convicted in Southlake cartel slayingFort Worth Star-Telegram

Austin Community College praised for filling workforce gaps, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

“Here in Texas, we care about our Texas values. Seeing [transgender] people at Fort Hood, or the Air Force base in San Antonio, these things are going to matter.” 

 — Lou Weaver, transgender programs coordinator for Equality Texas, on the Pentagon’s decision to lift its ban on transgender troops

News From Home

•    While several high-profile cases have fueled a national debate on police shootings, there is no comprehensive data on such shootings in Texas. With reader support, we hope to introduce a new layer of transparency here. And you can help. Click here for more information on how to assist in making this project a reality.

Trib Events for the Calendar

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•   TribFeast: A Dinner To Support Nonprofit Journalism on Sept. 24 at the University of Texas at Austin's Etter-Harbin Alumni Center

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