Restrictive Texas Laws Lead To Rise In Illegal Abortions
Since abortions became legal nationwide in 1973, self-induced abortion has been widely regarded as something of a rarity, an absolute last resort that’s even referred to with a jocular bent. But on the contrary, a study by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project has just been released. The study not only dispels this myth, but attributes an alarming rise of illegal abortions to the Texas House Bill 2, or HB2, of 2013. Medical procedures not administered by a medical professional are obviously ill-advised, but because of the restrictive law, which closed numerous safe and legal abortion clinics in Texas, women often have no choice. Thus according to the new study, HB2 is directly putting women in danger.
The findings are timely, as HB2 is finally being challenged in the US Supreme Court. It proves what many of us have been concerned about since the ruling; despite of the policing of our bodies, abortion rates have not gone down. Instead, illegal and unsafe abortion has risen dramatically.
Since HB2 went into action, more than half of the 41 abortion clinics opened in 2012 have been shut down. The law states that all abortion clinics need to have admitting privileges with a nearby hospital, but since Texas skews pro-life, many of these hospitals have denied those privileges to clinics. Thus they’ve had to shut down, and the effects have clearly been disastrous. Texas is a huge state, and for women that live in towns that don’t have abortion providers, it can be a day’s journey just to get to a clinic. What if you can’t afford to take time off from work? What if you have other children that you can’t leave alone? What if you don’t know that you’re pregnant until it’s too late to get there?
So the law leads to a domino effect: thousands of self-induced abortions have occurred in areas where said clinics once existed. Somewhere between 100,000 and 240,000 women have attempted self-induced abortion in Texas alone. The measures women are taking to avoid unwanted pregnancy are extreme, including the use of herbs or homeopathic remedies, getting hit or punched in the abdomen, using alcohol or illicit drugs, or taking hormonal pills, mostly found in nearby Mexico.
In June, The Atlantic reported on the rise of the use of the pill misoprostol, often found in Texas border towns. The pill induces a miscarriage, and women in heavily Catholic South America have considered it a “lifeline.” The drug is considered safe when administered by a medical professional, but women buying it illegally from Mexico don’t have access to correct dosage information. The dosage information is complex, and the pills are administered over the course of a day. Without accurate information, one’s health is put at great risk.
Women in high numbers are forced to risk criminalization and death every day, in privacy and without proper medical care. “Abortion is legal in this country,”as Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, told The Guardian. “And so every woman deserves to have access to whatever method for terminating her pregnancy safely she might choose in her local community.”
Featured image via MSNBC