As lawmakers make it increasingly difficult for women to access safe, legal abortion care in the state, today researchers with the independent Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) released information showing that at least 100,000 Texas women have attempted to self-induce an abortion. TxPEP’s study briefs are available here and here. Following is today’s press release from TxPEP:
AUSTIN (November 17, 2015) — Today, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) released first-of-its-kind research that finds at least 100,000 Texas women ages 18 to 49 (estimated to be 1.7% of Texas women of reproductive age) have ever attempted to end a pregnancy on their own without medical assistance. Other TxPEP research suggests self-induction may be more common in Texas compared to other states. This is the first time a statistic on self-induction in the general population has ever been calculated.
In an analysis of a statewide survey that controlled for sociodemographic factors, including age and reported history of abortion, researchers found that Latinas near the US-Mexico border and women who report barriers to accessing reproductive health care were significantly more likely to have attempted abortion self-induction themselves or know someone who had attempted to end a pregnancy as compared to non-Latinas in Texas or those who did not report barriers to reproductive health care.
Researchers believe that these two groups of women are likely to see the most direct increases in self-induced abortion rates should Texas’ HB2 law, a sweeping measure that imposes numerous restrictions on access to abortion, be fully implemented. Since HB2 was enacted in 2013, more than half of the facilities providing abortion care in Texas have closed. Last month, TxPEP released research revealing substantial increases in average wait times to schedule an appointment for an abortion– sometimes up to 20 days – at clinics in Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin.
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:
“This is the latest body of evidence demonstrating the negative implications of laws like HB2 that pretend to protect women but in reality place them, and particularly women of color and economically disadvantaged women, at significant risk.
“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.”
The researchers also performed interviews with women who had attempted to self-induce an abortion in recent years in Texas. According to the study, a common thread among these women was that poverty layered upon one or more additional obstacles left them feeling that they had no other option. Almost all of the women interviewed contacted or considered contacting a clinic at some point during their abortion process. While there was no one reason that exclusively drove women to this outcome, four primary reasons for self-induction included: financial constraints to travel to a clinic or to pay for the procedure, local clinic closures, recommendation from a close friend or family member to self-induce, or efforts to avoid the stigma or shame of going to an abortion clinic, especially if they had had prior abortions.
Currently the United States Supreme Court is considering Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole to decide the fate of HB2. Should the Court decide to uphold the law, Texas will be left with only 10 abortion clinics in a state with 5.4 million women of reproductive age, and leave 500 miles between San Antonio and the New Mexico border without a single clinic.
About the Report
Data for this report comes from a study commissioned by TxPEP and conducted by GfK using its KnowledgePanel. KnowledgePanel is a nationally representative, probability-based online non-volunteer access panel. GfK sampled households in the KnowledgePanel and then invited 1,397 non-institutionalized Texas-resident women between the ages of 18 and 49 to participate in the survey; 779 women completed it. Data collection took place over 5 weeks from December 2014 to January 2015. In addition, TxPEP researchers performed interviews with 18 women who reported attempting abortion self-induction within the prior five years while living in Texas. Women were recruited from abortion clinics or as part of interviews performed in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
The Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) is a five-year, comprehensive effort to document and analyze the impact of the measures affecting reproductive health passed by the 82nd and 83rd Texas Legislatures. The project team includes researchers from The University of Texas at Austin’s Population Research Center; Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California, San Francisco; Ibis Reproductive Health; and the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
The release of this research comes just days after the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear a challenge to a 2013 Texas law — House Bill 2 — that imposes onerous and medically unnecessary restrictions on health care clinics that provide abortion services. Since the passage of HB 2, the number of abortion clinics in Texas has dropped from 41 to 19. Fully implementing the law would lead to the closure of half of the remaining abortion clinics across the state.
Medical experts have pointed out repeatedly that the restrictions in HB 2 are medically unnecessary. Supporters of that law and other anti-abortion measures passed by state lawmakers have boasted that they are trying to end women’s access to abortion care in Texas.