Thousands of Texas Women Have Tried To Perform Their Own Abortion

November 20th 2015

Thor Benson

More than 200 abortion restrictions have been created in the U.S. since 2010, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Many of these restrictions have forced abortion clinics to shut down. The Supreme Court will soon take a case from Texas, where some of these abortion restrictions have been enacted, that focuses on a contested law that could force around 75 percent of Texas' abortion clinics to close. This law could force many women in Texas to have to drive over 200 miles to find an abortion provider.

Many Texas clinics have already closed, and the whole state now only has 17 left. There were 41 abortion clinics in Texas in 2012.

Two surveys just released by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project found between 100,000 and 240,000 women in Texas have already attempted performing abortions on themselves.

The survey looked at 779 women between the ages of 18 and 49 in Texas. They asked if the person being surveyed had attempted self-aborting, and they also asked if the woman being surveyed has a close friend who had attempted this. The surveys found 1.7 percent said they had attempting performing their own abortion, and 4.1 percent said they knew or suspected a close friend had attempted it. It was believed that women would be more honest when speaking about a friend self-aborting, rather than if they did it. That's why the estimate ranges between 100,000 and 240,000 women. Texas' population is near 30 million.

Most women who self-aborted did it using misoprostol (often taken with mifepristone), a drug that can cause abortions. Other women attempted abortions by using alcohol, herbs, drugs, getting punched in the abdomen, or other methods. 

One woman described her experience using misoprostol, which can cause severe cramps when used for an abortion:

"It started off slow and … went from zero to sixty real quick, and it was just like really painful, intense cramping. 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, we’re not – though we have all of the information as to how much bleeding is too much bleeding, you know, or that, there’s always that slight uncertainty of like I don’t really know what I’m doing.”

If the Supreme Court decides to allow Texas' abortion restrictions, seven more clinics could be closed, and more women will have trouble accessing abortions. Several studies have shown that countries that restrict abortion have much higher rates of people performing amateur, dangerous abortions.

Gallup's most recent statistics show that most Americans think abortion should be legal:

Gallup poll abortion