This page contains a timeline view of Texas's abortion laws and links to the legislation that enacted them. To learn more about what the Legislature intended when they wrote a specific bill, you will need to do "legislative intent" research. Our library does not have material related to this type of research. For help, please contact the Legislative Reference Library.
For more information about what occurred in a specific year, please click on the links below:
On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health. In this decision, the Court found that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. It found that there was no right to abortion included in the United States Constitution. Through this ruling, it allowed states to create abortion laws without restriction.
The Court issued its judgment in this case on July 26, 2022. A judgment in a Supreme Court case overturning Roe is one of the potential triggers listed in Texas's trigger law. According to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, this means that the Texas laws prohibiting most abortions will go into effect on August 25, 2022. Please see the "Trigger Laws" page of this guide for more details.
For more information about SB 8, please see our FAQ on the topic.
SB 8 is known as the "Texas Heartbeat Act." It added a new subchapter to the Woman's Right to Know Act prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
The most controversial aspect of SB 8 was the creation of a "civil enforcement" measure. It allows any person, other than a state or local government employee or officer, to sue anyone involved in providing an abortion or intending to provide an abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. This includes third parties who "aid and abet the performance or inducement of an abortion," including paying for the abortion.
The United States Supreme Court declined to hear an emergency challenge to this law in Whole Women's Health v. Jackson, 594 U. S. ____ (2021), allowing it to go into effect.
SB 4 added several restrictions to the use of abortion-inducing medicine. This bill:
HB 1280 contained a "trigger" provision that would ban abortion 30 days after one of the following events occurred:
The 85th Legislature's SB 8 added two new subchapters to the Woman's Right to Know Act. Subchapter F prohibits "partial-birth" abortions. Subchapter G prohibits "dismemberment abortions," a medical procedure known as dilation and evacuation.
This bill also added new provisions about how embryonic and fetal tissue and remains must be disposed of. Most notably, it created Chapter 697 of the Health and Safety Code. This chapter required embryonic or fetal tissue to be cremated or given a burial. The federal Fifth Circuit found these laws to be unconstitutional in 2018's Whole Woman's Health v. Smith, 338 F.Supp.3d 606 (2018), and prevented them from being enforced. Following the Dobbs ruling in 2022, this decision was reversed in Whole Woman's Health v. Young, 37 F.4th 1098 (2022).
"Admitting privileges" are special powers granted to a doctor by a hospital to allow them to admit patients for treatment. Doctors must go through an extensive application and review process to receive privileges. Even after going through this process, receiving the privileges is not a guarantee.
HB 2 required physicians performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion was performed.
HB 2 also required that abortion clinics conform to stricter standards than they had before. It required them to meet "ambulatory surgical" standards, which covers a broad range of topics like construction, plumbing, lighting, medical equipment, and staff qualifications.
HB 2 also required the doctor to estimate the "post-fertilization age" of the fetus. It prohibited the doctor from performing the abortion if they found that the fetus was 20 weeks or older, with some exceptions. This put the point at which a patient could no longer obtain an abortion slightly before the third trimester.
This is the only provision of HB 2 that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to stand.
HB 15 added to existing "informed consent" laws by adding the requirement of a sonogram prior to an abortion. This bill required that a physician provide a sonogram at least 24 hours before performing abortion. The doctor performing the sonogram must do the following:
The patient has the option to view the sonogram and hear the heartbeat, but must hear the description of the sonogram unless the pregnancy is the result of assault or incest, the patient is a minor, or if the fetus has an irreversible medical condition.
This bill required the physician providing an abortion to discuss specific medical risks and sources of support with the patient. It also gives the patient the right to review informational materials published by the state on the same topics.
This bill prevented a physician from performing an abortion on an unemancipated minor unless they had notified the minor's parent or guardian. They could also receive a court order, known as "judicial bypass."
Since the Dobbs ruling, Texas's "1925 Laws" regarding abortion have been widely discussed. In reality, these abortion laws existed in some form long before 1925! Please see below for a detailed history.
The "1925 Laws" were found to be unconstitutional by Roe v. Wade. However, the Legislature never fully removed them from the statutes. In his advisory order following Dobbs, Attorney General Ken Paxton suggested that these laws could still be enforced. A group of clinics sued Attorney General Paxton, seeking a "restraining order" from the court that would prevent the laws from being enforced. A Harris County judge granted a temporary restraining order. In response, Paxton requested an emergency stay of that restraining order from the Texas Supreme Court. On July 1, 2022, the Texas Supreme court issued a stay order, temporarily permitting the enforcement of the laws while the court considers the case.