At Least 100,000 Texas Women Have Attempted to Self-Induce Abortion, Study Finds

Nov 17, 2015

Hundreds of thousands of Texas women may have attempted to self-induce abortions, according to a “first of its kind” study released Tuesday by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP). The study, which estimates between 100,000 and 240,000 women have attempted self-induction, also indicates that these rates of self-induction may be higher in Texas than in other U.S. states. 

Researchers attribute increasing numbers of self-induced abortions to a variety of factors, primarily to legislation that restricts access to clinical abortions and to the availability of abortion-inducing medications across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Twenty-two percent of the female survey respondents said that either they or someone they know has terminated or attempted to terminate a pregnancy on their own outside of a clinical care setting. 

Rates were highest for women in Texas who identify as Latina and live near the border.

Self-induced abortion by medication was the most commonly reported method among respondents. Other methods reported include: the use of herbs or alternative medicine; use of alcohol or illicit drugs; getting hit or punched in the abdomen; and the use of hormonal pills.

The results of the study come just after an announcement from the U.S. Supreme Court that it would take on a case challenging the constitutionality of the Texas state law known as HB 2, which would apply stricter standards to women’s health clinics that provide abortion services and leave Texas with just nine abortion providers statewide.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, a TxPEP co-investigator and Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a press release that the more restrictive law may drive more women to look for options outside of clinical care settings.

“As clinic-based care becomes harder to access in Texas, we can expect more women to feel that they have no other option and take matters into their own hands,” Grossman said.

Thirty-four percent of women surveyed (out of 779 total) said they didn’t support abortion, but could understand why a woman would make the decision to try to end a pregnancy on her own.