Analysis

No, study doesn’t prove Texas lawmakers caused 240,000 self-abortion attempts

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Abortion advocates have been very excited over the last couple of days. Why? Because a study presumably “proves” that pro-life bills, such as HB2 in Texas, have created such a crisis that a quarter of a million women have attempted to induce their own abortions.

A Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) study released on Tuesday asserted that nearly a quarter million women in the state may have induced abortions themselves because of “onerous” restrictions that lawmakers have put on reproductive choice.

The study, which was based at the University of Texas at Austin, found that between 100,000 and 240,000 women had performed self-induced abortions in Texas over the past five years, the Austin Chronicle reported.

According to the study, the “advent of onerous legislation imposing restrictions on legal abortion access” and the availability of abortion drugs — largely from Mexico — have combined to make self-induced abortions in Texas less rare than most U.S. states.

“Other methods reported by those who knew someone who had attempted self-induction included herbs or homeopathic remedies, getting hit or punched in the abdomen, using alcohol or illicit drugs, or taking hormonal pills,” the study said.

The researchers are trying to pin this on laws like HB2, as one of the researchers, Dr. Daniel Grossman, pointed out, saying, “This is the latest body of evidence demonstrating the negative implications of laws like HB2 that pretend to protect women but in reality place them, and particularly women of color and economically disadvantaged women, at significant risk.” Unfortunately, the actual study itself (which can be viewed here) is filled with shoddy science and falsehoods. This will surely devastate the pro-abortion activists, who are salivating over the thought of women being butchered because they think it will make pro-lifers look bad. It’s like Christmas for the abortion lobby! It’s just too bad that it’s scientifically bunk.

The first problem is that the study never determines when these women tried to induce their own abortions. The abortions in the study could have taken place as long as 35 years ago, as it included women ages 18-49. If a 49 year old woman tried to make herself have an abortion 35 years ago at the age of 14, that would have been included in the study. Without knowing when these abortions occurred, there’s no way to tie these self-induced abortions to HB2, or any other pro-life law. Saying that these abortions happened within the past five years is not supported by the study at all.

The second problem with this study is that it also never determines where these abortions took place. The women in the study lived in Texas at the time they were interviewed. But did they live in Texas when they tried to self-induce their abortions? We don’t know, because the researchers didn’t bother to ask. So we don’t know when or where these attempted self-induced abortions took place, but somehow, they can be tied to HB2? OK then. Moving on.

The third problem is in the numbers. The third problem is in the numbers. There is quite a wide range in the study as far as how many women have tried to induce abortions — according to the researchers, it ranges from 100,000 to 240,000. That’s quite a huge leap, and of course, the larger number is the one being gleefully reported by the pro-abortion media outlets. But how did they actually get those numbers? Of their representative sample, 1.7% reported that they had tried to induce an abortion. This gives them the estimated number of 100,000 women. They got to the 240,000 number by asking women in their sample how many of their friends have tried to induce an abortion. Needless to say, this is a ridiculously unreliable method of determining how many women have tried to induce an abortion on their own. But that doesn’t stop it from being reported that “up to 240,000 women” have tried to induce their own abortion in Texas.

But wait, there’s more! The problems with this study keep on coming, folks.

The fourth problem is simple: why did these women attempt to induce their own abortions? We don’t know, because the researchers didn’t ask. Yet we’re supposed to assume that all of these abortions happened because of the mean pro-lifers and their nasty pro-life bills like HB2 because… the researchers and all of their pro-abortion friends said so? Sorry, but that’s not exactly good science.

The next issues, and arguably the largest, are that the researchers did not do any kind of comparisons. A good research study would have compared women in Texas to women in other border states, since the researchers say that Latino women living on the border were the most likely to have attempted to self-induce an abortion. What would the numbers look like in a state like New Mexico, Arizona, or California? A comparison to California would be the most telling, as they have extremely lax abortion laws. The researchers also did not look at how many women were self-medicating for other reasons, either. Crossing the border into Mexico to get medications for any reason is not unusual, and for one simple reason: it’s cheaper. Are the numbers of women getting, for example, misoprostol to attempt to induce an abortion higher than women getting any other medications? We don’t know, because there is no comparison.

All together, this study is very poorly done, and clearly was orchestrated to advance an agenda. And as such, the pro-abortion media is making sure to shout about it as much as they can, regardless of the fact that this study proves virtually nothing. But then, we shouldn’t be surprised, really — science has never been something the abortion lobby cares much about.

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