Over the past 5 years, Texas has become a hotbed of debate on abortion rights and
restrictions. Legislation in 2011 and 2013 made it more difficult for women to obtain
abortions and for clinics to provide the procedure, laws which have resulted in practical
obstacles and the closure of clinics. Less is known about whether that political activity
has extended to public opinion on abortion in Texas, especially in the national context
of increasing partisanship.
Data from the cross-sectional Houston Area Survey (HAS; n=4856) were used to compare attitudes about abortion at three time points: in 2010
before the major waves of legislation, in 2012 after the 2011 legislation, and in
2014 after the 2013 legislation. Logistic regressions estimated support for legal
abortion over time, after adjusting for personal characteristics, views on other social
issues, religiosity, political party identification and political ideology.
At all three time points studied, slightly more than half of Houstonians supported
legal abortion for any reason a woman wanted to obtain one. Compared to 2010, support
was significantly higher in 2012 and 2014, whereas the decline in support between
2012 and 2014 was not statistically significant after adjusting for religiosity and
This study identified increased public support for legal abortion following the Texas
state legislature's restrictive laws in 2011 and 2013.
As the Texas legislature increasingly restricts access to abortion, residents of the
state's largest and most diverse city do not hold attitudes in line with those restrictions.
Clinicians may thus have more public support for their services than the divided political
climate would suggest.