Women–who should hold their reproductive destinies in their own hands–are being forced to take other matters into their own hands. Denied access to lawful abortion by unconstitutional TRAP laws, more and more women are taking desperate measures to end their own pregnancies.
In the past few years, TRAP laws have shut down at least 162 abortion clinics. And you don’t end abortion by shutting down clinics any more than you save people’s lives by closing funeral homes. As a new article in Glamour points out, women who would have had safe and legal abortions are now reduced to taking measures that are often unsafe and illegal. To the anti-abortion movement, that’s progress!
Statistics show 700,000 online searches for ways to self-abort last year. And researchers say the searches are the most numerous in places where abortions are most difficult to obtain.
In Texas, where 22 of 41 clinics have been forced to close, surveys indicate that as many as 240,000 women have at some point attempted to self-abort. Those figures will only go up if the Supreme Court rules against Texas abortion providers when it hands down its decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt this summer.
Many of the women attempting self-abortions use misoprostol, which is part of the medical abortions performed by clinics. But the drug is obtained over the border in Mexico or from internet sources, and women can’t be sure what they’re getting. Equally problematic are the potions and home-remedies recommended online, none of which have any reliable data or science supporting them. But, perhaps most disturbing of all, are those women who resort to self-injury. One researcher even logged 4,000 Google searches for abortion options that included mentioning a “coat hanger.” If you thought the days of back alley abortions were behind us, you’ve underestimated the ability of abortion foes to move us backward in time.
Most cruel of all is that these desperate measures are often illegal. At least 17 women have been arrested for trying to self-abort or assist another woman in having an abortion. Self-induced abortions are explicitly illegal in 7 states, and many other states have other statutes and Feticide laws that could be used to prosecute women who attempt to self-abort.
Now is the time for organizing, speaking out, and stopping the assault on abortion rights so that we can leave the actual abortion procedures to the professionals.