Texas Women Are Already Living In A Scary Post-Roe V. Wade World

Photo: Eric Gay/AP Photo.
A new report released by the University of Texas at Austin has frightening new findings about abortion access in Texas. The study found that between 100,000 and 240,000 women in the Lone Star State had likely tried to end a pregnancy via a self-induced abortion.

The new study was conducted by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. Of the women surveyed, 22% said that they, their best friend, or someone else they knew had attempted to end a pregnancy on her own. One of the methods used was a pair of abortifacient drugs known as mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, is the drug commonly prescribed by doctors for a medical abortion. Misoprostol is also an abortifacient drug; it is restricted in the United States but available as an over-the-counter ulcer medication in Mexico. Other methods cited by the study included ingesting herbs, getting hit or punched in the stomach, using alcohol or drugs, or swallowing hormonal pills.

In 2013, Texas passed House Bill 2, a TRAP law intended to regulate abortion clinics into closure — which it has done very well. Since it went into effect, HB2 has caused the shuttering of more than half of all Texas abortion clinics, leaving huge gaps in services for women throughout the state. Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a stay on certain provisions in the bill, allowing some clinics to stay open. Earlier this month, the court agreed to hear a case by a Texas clinic against the bill: Whole Women’s Health v. Cole. If the justices decide in favor of the state, another 10 clinics will be forced to close, leaving only nine facilities for a state of 5.5 million women.

In a conference call with Refinery29, Amy Hagstrom Miller, the president and CEO of Whole Women's Health, the Texas clinic bringing suit against the state in front of the Supreme Court, described a woman who was denied a clinical abortion thanks to the regulations of HB2. “She reached out to our hotline and said, ‘I will terminate this pregnancy. So how about I tell you what I have in my cupboard, under my sink, and in my medicine cabinet, and you tell me what to use and how to use it in order to do my own abortion,’” Hagstrom Miller said. “It’s stunning to hear stories like this, but that’s exactly what's at stake.”

Unregulated methods of self-induced abortion can be incredibly dangerous. According to the Guttmacher Institute, unsafe abortion, defined by the World Health Organization as “a procedure for terminating a pregnancy that is performed by an individual lacking the necessary skills, or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both” — and includes self-induced abortion — has a death rate 350 times higher than abortion as practiced legally by a physician.
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