Knowledge, opinion and experience related to abortion self-induction in Texas
Texas Policy Evaluation Project. Knowledge, opinion and experience related to abortion self-induction in Texas. November 2015
Since abortion became legal nationwide in 1973, women attempting to end a pregnancy on their own outside of a clinical setting (i.e., self-induced abortion) has generally been thought to be very rare. But there are two recent changes that may be leading the incidence of self-induction to increase. The first is the advent of onerous legislation imposing restrictions on legal abortion access. The second is the increasing preference for medication abortion, as well as the possibility of women accessing abortion-causing drugs on their own.
Both of these factors are at play in Texas, where women’s attempts to self-induce abortion have been previously reported. Several restrictive abortion laws have been imposed in Texas in the past decade, and three provisions of HB2, one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, went into effect in 2013. In addition, Texas shares a border with Mexico, where misoprostol, a drug that can effectively cause an early abortion, is often available in pharmacies without a prescription.
Prior research among women seeking abortion suggests that abortion self-induction is more common in Texas than the rest of the country. A national study of abortion patients in 2008 found that less than 2% reported taking something to try to cause an abortion for the current pregnancy prior to coming to the clinic.A study led by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project in 2012 found that 7% of abortion patients in Texas reported taking or doing something on their own to try to end their current pregnancy.
In order to gather some basic information about women’s knowledge, opinions and experience related to abortion self-induction in Texas, we carried out a survey of a statewide representative sample of women between the ages of 18 and 49. The data we collected begins to provide answers to four questions outlined below. As the first study to explore how common abortion self-induction is in the general population, this research provides important information about the potential public health impact of laws that restrict access to clinic-based abortion care.