Texas Anti-Abortion Bill Forces Women to Perform Home Abortions

Image:Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” by Debra Sweet via Flickr / CC BY 2.0.

A recent study conducted by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) at the University of Texas has found that as a result of HB 2, women in Texas are more likely to induce home abortions than other women in the country.

The bill was drafted in 2013 by Republican Senator Glen Hegar, who admitted to taking advice from anti-abortion activists. The inspiration to propose HB 2 came from the other similar anti-abortion bills passed in Ohio, Mississippi, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wisconsin. The bill was taken to the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by pro-choice activists, but all its provisions were upheld.      

Although the Choice Movement has gained significant momentum, women have been facing a backlash of political turmoil following the Roe v. Wade victory in 1973. As of now, 20 states are denying women the abortion coverage offered by the Affordable Care Act.

Since it passed in 2013, HB 2 implemented specific requirements that half of the abortion clinics in Texas could not meet. The shutdown of half of all Texas abortion clinics left the proud state with a total of 8 approved abortion clinics in a state with 5.4 million women of reproductive age and with many living 500 miles from a single clinic.

The requirements for abortion clinics in HB 2 limit the options for women who seek clinical abortion care, and prolong the waiting period. With the bill, the abortion provider must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, closing out the majority of the clinics, and making it harder to find safe abortion provider. Abortions are also prohibited before the pregnancy has reached 20-weeks (unless the woman is at risk for injury or death). Lastly, if a women decides to take abortion-inducing FDA-approved drugs they must attend two separate follow-up doctor appointments, and a third doctor appointment after 14 days of taking the pill. However, if a woman lives within 100 miles of an abortion clinic she must wait 24 hours between her ultrasound appointment and actual abortion, bringing that to 4 doctor appointments in some circumstances.

These new requirements and restrictions set by HB 2 make it more difficult for women to seek clinical abortion care. Because wait times to schedule an appointment can be up to 20 days, by the time they do reach 1 of the 8 clinics, it might be too late.

TxPEP determined that the number of women performing their own abortions in Texas is estimated to range between 100,000 and 240,000. Poor women who do not have access (because of difficulties with costs or transportation) to clinics and Latina women along the U.S.-Mexico border are disproportionately overrepresented in the numbers.  

Considering how the women resorting to home abortions are from low-income backgrounds, the methods they are using are mostly dangerous. Texas women who are left with no more options use methods like “herbs, alcohol, illicit drugs, hormonal pills, and getting hit or punched in the abdomen,” the study claims.

The same study found that Texas women in their reproductive age do not support the criminalization of women who end their own abortions.

Reproductive rights for women of color and poor women are always the first ones to be compromised. Supporting the Choice Movement requires more than being pro abortion; advocating for the most disadvantaged populations, like the poor and racial/ethnic minorities, is critical in the fight for equality.

Contemporarily, national attention has been placed on false videos criminalizing Planned Parenthood, leading conservative politicians threatening to defund it at the federal level. With Planned Parenthood fighting to keep the federal funding they do have, it is crucial to remember that abortions only make up 3% of its services. The majority of its services cater to poor Americans who have little access to affordable health care.

When mobilizing with Planned Parenthood for the right to abortions, let’s also emphasize how accessible health care should be available for every woman, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.    

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