As Many as 240,000 Texas Women Had Self-Induced Abortions

A distressing new study of women in Texas found that at least 100,000 individuals attempted to perform self-induced abortions. The study suggests that the figure, however, could be in fact as high as 240,000 Texas women — a number that puts the Lone Star state among the highest rates of self-induced pregnancy terminations in the nation. The study also found that a large portion of those self-inducing abortion were Latinas.

Of those women surveyed in Texas, an incredible 22 percent say they or someone they know has sought to self-induce an abortion. In most cases these women used medications; others, however, reported using hormonal drugs, illegal drugs or alcohol and in some cases even causing trauma to the abdomen.

Considering the great danger these methods entail — especially as they cannot guarantee a safe termination — it is safe to say self-inducing abortion isn’t the preferred outcome for most Texas women. This is particularly evident when comparing Texas’ 22 percent to the estimate for self-induced pregnancies nationwide: Less than 2 percent. Why are Texas women doing it?

In 2013 Texas implemented HB2, a highly controversial state law which redefined the standards a clinic providing abortions must meet to remain in operation. These new requirements force clinics to meet the same standards as surgery centers — effectively making operating costs for abortion clinics too high to remain open.

Today only 20 of Texas’ 45 pre-HB2 abortion clinics remain in operation. In fact, that number would be down to 10 if not for the U.S. Supreme Court’s intervention. Two major medical groups, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, have said that “there is no medically sound reason for Texas to impose more stringent requirements on abortion facilities than it does on other medical facilities.”

There is little doubt that Texas’ unusually high rate of self-induced abortions is a direct result of HB2. Those surveyed frequently cited little or no access to reproductive health services as a reason for seeking termination on their own.

The U.S. Supreme Court says it will review the controversial Texas law next year. During the interim, it has halted the closure of 10 clinics in Texas. Even still, faith-oriented pregnancy centers have begun opening up to replace over half of the state’s abortion clinics shuttering.

However, while waiting to see what becomes of the ruling, it would be worth considering how Texas women found themselves in this dire situation in the first place: How did a law like HB2 come to be?

During the election cycles that kept or put into office the Texas state legislators who would write and pass HB2, state voter participation was especially dismal (even given the state’s traditionally low turnout). Turn out among Latino Texans, a traditionally low turnout group anyway, was exceptionally low during this period.

Why? As the Texas Observer explains, there is a strong sense of apathy among Latino voters borne out a deep lack of faith in the political process. However, this reasoning is far from unfounded. The voting process and the way districts are mapped in Texas are both deliberately designed to disenfranchise non-white groups, including Latinas (who, not coincidentally, make up group most adversely affected by HB2). Texas’ controversial voter ID law, which added unwarranted hurdles to the voting process was in effect during this period (however, parts of this law were recently struck down).

Texas’ absurd anti-abortion clinic bill deliberately pushes women to seek self-induced abortions at their own peril. At the same time, Texas has prosecuted women for administering their own pregnancy terminations. Effectively, Texas has told its female citizens that, practically- and legally-speaking, they must carry their pregnancies to term whether they wish to or not. And those most affected by this reality face an uphill battle seeing true representation within Texas.

Of course, Texas lawmakers’ narrow-minded vision of reproductive rights ignores what we know to be true — pregnancy terminations are inevitable. Would they truly prefer to moralize via state bills rather than safeguard the health of their fellow Texans? It would appear so.

Photo Credit: hatchapong / Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome Sabout a year ago


Jim Ven
Jim Venabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Karen C.
Karen C1 years ago

Abortion should be legal to the women who want it. If you don't want to get an abortion, don't get one.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Rea p.
Rea p2 years ago

holy cow!that is crazy...and sad

Carole R.
Carole R2 years ago

Abortion needs to be legal and safe. No law will stop women from getting them.

Amy C.
Amy C2 years ago

probably wrong for the health of the women

Amy C.
Amy C2 years ago

so wrong

Sara Sezun
Sara S2 years ago

I wonder how many women have become seriously ill, or even died as a result of this law.

Donna T.
Donna T2 years ago

thank you