Politics & Policy

Zero Evidence That More and More Women in Texas Are Performing Abortions on Themselves

How many women in Texas perform self-induced abortions? This week, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) released a study on this question. Their argument is that after the state bill known as HB 2 went into effect in 2013 — resulting in the closure of more than half of the abortion facilities in Texas — the number of self-induced abortions among Texas women has significantly increased. Citing the study as proof, many media outlets — including The Atlantic, Mother Jones, and Slate — are giving readers the impression that hundreds of thousands of Texas women have attempted to perform self-induced abortions in the wake of HB 2.

A little background: In the wake of the Kermit Gosnell trial, Texas took the lead in enacting legislation to protect women and their unborn children. HB 2, which was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry, requires that abortion facilities have the same health standards as ambulatory surgical centers and that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The public-health crisis that critics predicted when HB 2 was signed into law has not come to pass.

A closer look at TxPEP’s study, purporting to show HB 2’s harmful effects on women, reveals that it has numerous methodological shortcomings. In fact, it provides absolutely no credible evidence whatsoever that self-induced abortions have increased in Texas since HB 2 went into effect. The TxPEP study was based on online survey responses from nearly 800 Texas women ages 18 to 49. It asked them whether 1) they had ever attempted to self-induce an abortion and 2) whether they thought their best friend had ever attempted to self-induce an abortion. It used these findings from this one survey to predict the incidence of self-induced abortion among all Texas women of reproductive age. 

There are numerous methodological problems with this study:

‐It is difficult to draw generalizations about a vast population — Texas has almost 30 million people — from one online survey that had fewer than 800 respondents.

‐The study asked women whether they had ever attempted to self-induce an abortion. It did not ask whether they had attempted to self-induced an abortion after HB 2 took effect. As such, it provides no evidence that self-induced abortions have increased since HB 2 took effect in 2013.

‐Even though many abortion facilities in Texas have closed since 2013, there are many cities in Texas where abortion remains available. That said, the study provides little evidence that women who live in areas with limited access to abortion were more likely to attempt a self-induced abortion.

‐Women who legally obtained medical abortions by taking the RU-486 pill under medical supervision might have misunderstood the survey question and reported that they self-induced an abortion.

Overall, the public-health crisis that critics predicted when HB 2 was signed into law has not come to pass. Abortion numbers have fallen by 13 percent in the year since HB 2 went into effect. Additionally, preliminary data from the Texas Department of State Health Services indicate that abortions have fallen another 15 percent in 2014. The Texas birth rate has also been falling, so there is no evidence that HB 2 has resulted in an increase in the rate of unintended pregnancies. Pro-lifers should not be misled by this shoddy study; they should continue their efforts to advocate in every state for commonsense legislation that is similar to HB2 in Texas.

— Michael J. New is a visiting associate professor at Ave Maria University, a faculty research fellow at the Stein Center for Social Research, and an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New.

Editor’s Note: This article originally stated that Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 2 into law. In fact, it was Governor Rick Perry.

Michael J. New is a visiting assistant professor of social research and political science at the Catholic University of America and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C.

Most Popular


A Reckoning Is in Store for Democrats

The crisis of the Democrats is becoming more evident each week. Those of us who have been loudly predicting for years that the Russian-collusion argument would be exposed as a defamatory farce, and that the authors of it would eventually pay for it, are bemused at the fallback position of the Trump-haters: that ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar: A Hostage Situation

‘It has to stop,” says Representative Ilhan Omar. No, it does not. Representative Omar, the Jew-hating Minnesota Democrat, is engaged in one of her usual games of misdirection, a pattern of hers that by now is familiar enough to be predicted: She says something outrageously stupid, offensive, ... Read More

Why ‘Stop Sanders’?

'Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?” T. S. Eliot asked. “Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” And where is the intelligence we have lost in cleverness? Cleverness is the plague of our political classes, an influenza of the intellect. The consultants are always trying to ... Read More
Film & TV

Everyone Is Wrong about The Searchers

The greatest Western of all time . . . isn’t. Though The Searchers is regularly hailed as the finest exemplar of its genre and one of the best movies of any kind (seventh-best of all time, according to the decennial Sight & Sound poll), John Ford’s 1956 film is mediocre for most of its run time. Nearly ... Read More

Trump Is Hell-Bent on ‘Owning the Libs’

President Trump is looking into giving a free trip to San Francisco, New Orleans, or other great American cities to tens of thousands of refugees from Central America. All so he can own the libs. “Owning the libs” is one of those phrases to have emerged over the past few years that vacillates between ... Read More