UT-based study finds 1.7 percent of Texas women have attempted self-induced abortions

Selah Maya Zighelboim

At least 100,000, or 1.7 percent, of Texas women have attempted to self-induce an abortion, according to a recent study by UT-based Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

Although the study suggests abortion-restricting policies and the increasingly easy access to abortion-inducing medication may be factors in this, more research is needed to determine this connection, Dan Grossman, Texas Policy Evaluation Project co-investigator, said.

“There has been a lot of interest in the media,” Grossman said in an email. “Some of the coverage has suggested that there is a clear link between the legal restrictions on abortion access and an increase in abortion self-induction, but this is not true. Our study of the proportion of Texas women age 18-49 who have ever attempted self-induction will be useful as a baseline measurement moving forward to see if this increases over time.”

Previous research suggests self-induced abortion is more common in Texas than the rest of the country, according to the study. A 2008 national study found that fewer than 2 percent of abortion patients across the country attempted to self-induce an abortion, while a 2012 Texas Policy Evaluations Project found 7 percent of Texas abortion patients have attempted to self-induce an abortion.

“Our interviews with women who have attempted self-induction indicate that some women are pushed to do this because they face barriers accessing clinic-based care,” Grossman said in an email.

The study found that women who have reported difficulty accessing reproductive health services such as pap smears and birth control and Latina women living in a county that borders Mexico are more likely to try to self-induce an abortion.

Ashley Rappaport, Texas Students for Life president and public health junior, said the way the survey was conducted was methodologically unsound because they asked respondents if their best friend had ever attempted to self-induce an abortion, in addition to themselves, and that most of the women who had self-induced an abortion did so with a pill.

“It’s very troubling anyone feels pressured to end the life they’ve brought into this world, especially without proper medical care,” Rappaport said. “But to say 100,000 women have self-induced abortions in Texas without a sound scientific study is just completely preposterous.”

Ashley Alcantara, University Democrats communication director and international relations and global studies senior, said that abortion-restricing laws need to be changed in order to reduce the number of women who try to self-induce an abortion.

“Anytime you reduce access, it’s always going to lead to more self-induced abortions,” Alcantara said.