A new study has found that at least 100,000 women in Texas have tried to end a pregnancy without help from a doctor and that number is expected to rise as a result of restrictive laws. Women took herbs, hormones, drugs and even blows to the stomach to try to do so.
"As clinic-based care becomes harder to access in Texas, we can expect more women to feel that they have no other option and take matters into their own hands," said study author Daniel Grossman, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
The study comes just days after the Supreme Court agreed Friday to review the state's curbs on abortion rights, its first case on the highly sensitive topic since 2007.
Texas will be left with only 10 abortion providers for 5.4 million women of reproductive age -- 1 in 12 of whom would have to drive over 100 miles (160 kilometers) to access a clinic -- should the challenged provisions be upheld. This is the first time a broad statistic on self-inducted abortion has been calculated, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project said.
Previous studies have found that two percent of women seeking medical abortions nationwide -- and seven percent of women seeking medical abortions in Texas -- had tried to end a pregnancy on their own before going to a clinic.
This study used a survey of Texas women aged 18 to 49 to try to determine the rate among all women of reproductive age. Data collection occurred over a period of five weeks between December 2014 and January 2015. Some 1,397 women were asked to participate in the survey, with 779 completing it.
Some 1.7 percent of respondents said they had tried to end a pregnancy on their own, which, when extrapolated to the population at large, would mean at least 100,000 women. However, the researchers cautioned that the true number is likely significantly higher since women tend to underreport abortions in surveys.
One in five respondents said they knew a woman who had tried to self-induce an abortion. The Supreme Court's decision is expected next June, in the midst of a presidential campaign.
Most of similar laws passed by various states purportedly aim to protect women's health, but nearly all have the effect of limiting abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights but whose research on the subject is widely credited, US states adopted 231 legal restrictions on abortion from 2011 to 2014.