Not 1925: Texas’ law banning abortion dates to before the Civil War

The restriction, which was revived after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, was put in place amid concerns about declining white birth rates and as the medical profession formalized.

By Eleanor Klibanoff, The Texas TribuneAugust 18, 2022 9:45 am, ,

From The Texas Tribune:

The north side of the Texas Capitol grounds in 1892.

Spanish origins

Texas’ fledgling medical industry

Texas’ abortion statute, filed in the state’s first penal code under “offences against the persons or individuals,” came with two to five years of prison time for performing or furnishing the means for an abortion. The law exempted abortions performed “by medical advice” to save the life of the pregnant patient.

The Capitol building in Austin from 1856 until it burned in 1881.

Storer’s other main argument — both explicit and implicit — focused on rising immigration and declining white birth rates. Birth rates in the U.S. plummeted during the 19th century from about seven children per woman to less than four, with white women making up the steepest declines.

Texas’ efforts to regulate both childbirth and abortion coincided with a national effort started by a Boston doctor named Horatio Storer, who pushed states to tighten their abortion laws.

Early legal battles

1857 statutes today

Lawyers Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee worked together to successfully argue Roe v. Wade, which in 1973 gave women a right to abortion.

Abortion opponents attend the Rally for Life march at the Capitol in Austin on Jan. 27, 2018.