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Texas Abortion Laws

Although the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling legalized abortion at the federal level, many states have restricted the procedure through various regulatory and statutory tactics. Texas has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, including mandatory ultrasound imaging and parental consent for minors. Additionally, women seeking abortion-inducing medications must make four visits to a doctor and obtain an ultrasound.

Texas Law as of April 2022

Texas’ abortion laws changed significantly in 2021. They are complicated and are currently under review by the courts.

There are two particular statutes (laws) in place, only one of which is currently effective. The first statute is the Texas Heartbeat Act of 2021. That statute prohibits essentially all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected (which takes place around 6 weeks of gestation) and is enforced through a private civil remedy. Various abortion providers filed a civil action to enjoin enforcement of the statute in Whole Women’s Health v. Jackson. The law remains in effect while the case is pending.

The second abortion law, the Human Life Protection Act of 2021, is only effective if the Supreme Court overrules, in whole or in part, Roe v. Wade. That statute would essentially prohibit all abortions except when the pregnancy (1) places the mother at risk of death or (2) poses a serious risk of substantially impairing a major bodily function.

The Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge to Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. A decision is expected in June 2022.

The Main Provisions: Texas Abortion Laws

The main provisions of Texas abortion laws are highlighted in the table below. See FindLaw's Reproductive Rights section to learn more.

Code Section Civ. Stat. sections 4512.5, H&S 245.001 et seq., H&S chapters 170, 170A, 171
Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion
  1. Destroying the vitality or life of a child in birth or before (which otherwise would have been born alive); 
  2. Operating a facility without license, failure to meet Board of Health standards, or failure to make reports to Department of Health; 
  3. Performing an act after pregnancy with intent to cause termination of pregnancy other than for purpose of birth of live fetus or removal of dead fetus; with public funds except for cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest; after a fetal heartbeat is detected (around six weeks of gestation) unless necessary to preserve the life of the mother or to eliminate a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function 
Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion Abortion after heartbeat is detected (around six weeks)  permissible only if necessary to prevent death or substantial risk of serious impairment to woman's major bodily function 
Penalty for Unlawful Abortion
  • Abortion of viable fetus: imprisonment 5 years to life
  • Operating facility without license: fine $100 to $500 per day, Class C misdemeanor
  • Failure to report as legally required: Class A misdemeanor
Consent Requirements Parent of a minor must consent and be notified prior to the procedure.
Residency Requirements for Patients -
Physician Licensing Requirements Licensed physician, Third trimester: must certify in writing medical indications supporting M.D.'s judgement. Private hospital or facility is not required to make their facilities available for an abortion unless M.D. determines mother's life is immediately endangered.
Additional Restrictions

Woman must undergo ultrasound, be shown the image, and have the image described to her. If she lives within 100 miles of an abortion clinic, ultrasound must be obtained at least 24 hours in advance of the abortion.

If seeking abortion-inducing medications (such as RU-486), must make four visits to a licensed physician.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Texas Abortion Laws: Related Resources

Have Concerns About Texas Abortion Laws? Talk to a Local Attorney

Even though you have the constitutionally guaranteed right to safe and legal abortion in the United States, individual states are free to enact certain restrictions. If you're having difficulty accessing an abortion service provider or have other legal concerns about Texas abortion laws, you should talk to a skilled family law attorney in Texas.

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