100,000 Texas Women Have Reportedly Tried to Give Themselves Abortions, Because Limiting Access to Care Just Makes Abortion More Dangerous

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bottle with pillsToday on Sick, Sad, World, new research indicates that an estimated 100,000 women in Texas have tried to give themselves DIY abortions that they wouldn’t have had to resort to if they’d had access to safe medical care.

According to The Cut, yesterday the Texas Policy Evaluation Project released the results of a study on self-induced abortions–a rare topic of examination–that indicated that huge numbers of women were resorting to attempted DIY abortions due to poverty or lack of access.

Researchers interviewed 779 Texas women and 22 percent said they or their best friends had attempted to induce an abortion instead of going to a clinic. That might seem like a questionable way to conduct a study, but according to The Cut, the researchers say the “best friend” question is a useful one because surveyed women are more likely to share data about their close friends that they might not want to talk about themselves.

The numbers suggest that if the percentages hold, 100,000 to 240,000 women in Texas have attempted to terminate pregnancies by themselves. (It’s 100,000 when researchers consider just the women who reported attempting to terminate their own pregnancies. If the data includes the women reporting about their best friends, the number looks more like 240,000.)

Techniques for self-induced abortions include consuming herbs that are meant to induce miscarriage, consuming large amounts of alcohol or drugs, getting someone to hit or punch them in the stomach, or acquiring abortion drugs on the black market. These are all extremely dangerous and unreliable, especially compared with the relative safety of walking right into a convenient clinic like, say, Planned Parenthood.

These women aren’t resorting to DIY abortions because they are stupid or don’t want to go to a clinic. They’re doing it because they’re out of options, and they can’t afford to travel to a place where they could obtain a safe abortion.

So instead of having access to safe reproductive care, women are taking spurious drugs at home with no medical supervision. Most of them know this is a scary prospect. Several reported being afraid that they would either be caught trying to self-induce an abortion and tried with a crime, or that something would go wrong and they would die or seriously injure themselves.

“It started off slow and … went from zero to sixty real quick and it was just like really painful, intense cramping,” one woman said. “It was the worst cramping I’ve ever had and probably one of the worst pains I’ve gone through. And there was also the fact that I’m doing it at home … there’s always that slight uncertainty of like I don’t really know what I’m doing.”

Laws preventing abortion don’t stop abortion. They just make abortions illicit and unsafe and punish disadvantaged women disproportionately. A woman of means can just go wherever abortions are available and be taken care of in a safe, hygienic space. A poor woman does not have that option. As safe access to reproductive care and safe abortions from clinics like Planned Parenthood become harder to acquire, more and more women are resorting to attempts like these, and that is a disaster.

You know what does prevent abortions, though? Birth control.  Colorado proved that when it gave out free IUDs to low-income women, and the state’s abortion and teen pregnancy rates plummeted. It even saved the state a ton of money and was a smashing success.

H/T The Cut

(Photo: Jeng Niamwhan/iStockPhoto/Getty Images)