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Study Finds Texas Women Are 'Self-Managing' Abortions At A Higher Rate

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
Whole Woman's Health clinic in Austin closed after Texas enacted House Bill 2. But the clinic petitioned the Supreme Court and reopened after the court threw out Texas' law in 2016.

From Texas Standard:

A new study from the University of Texas at Austin finds that a higher number of Texas women are choosing self-managed abortions compared to the national average. That includes using herbs, or drugs obtained without a prescription, in an effort to end a pregnancy.

Liza Fuentes led the study for UT's Texas Policy Evaluation Project. She now works at the Guttmacher Institute in New York. She says researchers surveyed 700 women who sought abortion services in Texas clinics in 2012 and in 2014.

"It provides a snapshot of the context around abortion access around that time," Fuentes says.

The research homed in on a window of time just before and after the Texas Legislature passed a 2013 law, House Bill 2, that required all abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their clinic. The U.S. Supreme Court threw out the law in 2016, but the number of clinics providing abortion services quickly dropped by half just over a year after the Legislature enacted the law.

Fuentes says about 7% of women surveyed tried self-managed abortions, which is about three times the national average of 2.2%.

In addition to the survey, Fuentes and her team interviewed 18 women for an in-depth look at their self-abortion practices. The main finding was that these women chose self-managed abortion because there wasn't a clinic nearby, and they couldn't afford to travel to the next-nearest one.

Fuentes says the study doesn't make a direct link between a higher rate of self-managed abortions in Texas and HB 2. But she says some of the women interviewed said the lack of nearby clinics made seeking abortion care financially unfeasible.

She says learning more about self-managed abortions means organizations like the Guttmacher Institute and others can better educate women about safety, side effects and more when it comes to alternative abortion methods.

Written by Caroline Covington.

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