Disturbing but unsurprising: Women in anti-choice states increasingly looking to DIY abortions

There was a terrifically disturbing but completely unsurprising story in the New York Times over the weekend about the apparent rise of self-induced abortions in states that have moved to restrict reproductive freedom in recent years. This is from Tara Culp-Ressler’s summary  at Think Progress:

The demand for information about how to self-induce an abortion “has risen to a disturbing level,” according to a New York Times analysis that examined more than 700,000 Google searches across the country in 2015.

New York Times contributor Seth Stephens-Davidowitz crunched the numbers and found a correlation between online searches related to illegal pregnancy terminations — including search terms like “home abortion methods,” “buy abortion pills online,” “free abortion pills,” and “how to do a coat hanger abortion” — and states with harsh abortion restrictions.

When tracking these abortion-related search terms between 2005 and 2015, Stephens-Davidowitz noticed a significant increase in search traffic in 2011 — the same year that marked a sharp uptick in anti-abortion legislation on the state level. And in the swaths of the South and the Midwest where reproductive health clinics are closing at a rapid pace, Stephens-Davidowitz observed a higher rate of interest in self-induced abortion.

The findings may offer a window into the desperate measures that some women consider when legal abortion options are out of reach to them.

Stephens-Davidowitz writes that, although his data is preliminary, these Google searches “show a hidden demand for self-induced abortion reminiscent of the era before Roe v. Wade.”

It’s difficult to obtain accurate information about self-induced abortion in the United States, though some researchers have recently tried to start tracking it in states that are particularly hostile to reproductive health. One study examining Texas, where a stringent law that’s forced dozens of clinics to close is currently before the Supreme Court, estimated that at least 100,000 women there have attempted to induce their own abortion.

On an anecdotal level, several reporters have documented an increasing number of Texas women who are crossing the border to obtain abortion-inducing drugs in Mexico.

Reproductive rights proponents point to this emerging evidence to argue that laws like Texas’ are actively harming women’s health — which directly contradicts the stated purpose of the policy, whose supporters say is necessary to safeguard patients.

“Many women now face insurmountable barriers to access basic health care, like waiting weeks for an abortion, having to drive hundreds of miles to access care, and sometimes resorting to inducing their own abortion without medical supervision,” Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement in response to Stephens-Davidowitz’s findings. “The evidence is loud and clear: these restrictions hurt women.”

Click here to see the maps. In North Carolina, where state leaders have been moving to restrict abortion access, searches for “self-induced abortions” are more than 10% above the national average.


Women’s health and reproductive freedom supporters to rally at General Assembly tomorrow

Planned ParenthoodAs the General Assembly gives approval today to legislation based in part on phony-baloney allegations against Planned Parenthood, advocates for women’s health and  reproductive freedom will rally at the General Assembly tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. as part of the national “I stand with Planned Parenthood” movement.

This is from local organizers:

“Here’s what’s going on in North Carolina.

Just last week, NC lawmakers attacked sex education although it’s proven to be effective – teen pregnancy rates are steadily dropping.

Our students need more than that and to let our legislators know, we are holding a People’s Assembly, complete with a sex-ed teach in on Tuesday, September 29.

We’re thinking, if they don’t support sex education, we’ll bring it to them!

Let’s show our legislators that our students deserve to learn what’s healthy.

So wear Pink, come to the legislative building and show our lawmakers that we are not backing down!”

Click here to RSVP and get for more information.


Will the U.S. Supreme Court finish off women’s reproductive freedom this term?

As Ian Millhiser of the Center for American Progress writes in a new post, there is good reason to be very, very worried.

Less than a year from now, Roe v. Wade could be all-but-dead. Employers, health providers, and pharmacists could gain sweeping new power to impose their religious views on women who use birth control. And elected lawmakers could even be stripped of their power to correct Supreme Court decisions that read religious objectors’ rights too expansively. Simply put, the Supreme Court term that begins next month is likely to do more to determine how much control women have over their own bodies than any term since the justices decided Roe v. Wade.
(Emphasis supplied).

Click here to read the entire disturbing story.


Why the smear campaign against Planned Parenthood is backfiring

This morning’s North Carolina news media “must read” comes from Greensboro News & Record  columnist Susan Ladd. In her column, Ladd explains exactly why the latest manufactured smear campaign against Planned Parenthood is just that:

“Because of its nationwide network of providers, Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortion services in the country, but abortions amount to only 3 percent of the health services this group provides.

The most recent attacks on Planned Parenthood were videos purporting to show the group’s ‘procuring baby parts for profit.’

The Center for Medical Progress, which shot these heavily edited undercover videos, is not a medical organization but a political one, founded to create inflammatory ‘sting’ videos of Planned Parenthood.

David Daleiden, the project leader for the videos has a history of creating deceptively edited videos. One of CMP’s board members is Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who in 2003, called the murder of an abortion doctor “a justifiable defensive action.”

Abortion rights groups and some U.S. senators are asking that CMP be investigated for false representation and misleading the IRS when it applied for tax-exempt status….

But the smear campaign hasn’t abated. CMP continues to release more of its videos, and politicians continue to site them over and over in trying to sway opinion and public policy.

I’m sad to say that some of our local elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-Guilford) and Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) are among them.

Unfortunately, a lie repeated often enough still will persuade some of the people — especially those who want to believe it. And the truth, determined over time by impartial investigations, never has the shock value or leaves quite as much of an impression as those sensational videos.”

Fortunately, the lies aren’t achieving their intended objective -harming Planned Parenthood. As Ladd notes:

Read more


The healthy path to even fewer abortions

Nobody wants there to be more abortions in North Carolina. The issue is women’s health and the fact that thousands of women every year must grapple with unintended pregnancies. Happily, as the lead editorial in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer reminds us, there is a way to get after both problems: readily accessible birth control:

“The number of abortions in North Carolina has been dropping sharply even as Republican legislators step up efforts to make the procedure more difficult to obtain.

The decline was documented in an Associated Press survey of 45 states that keep abortion records. North Carolina had the nation’s second-biggest drop with the number of abortions falling 26 percent from 2010 to 2013. Nationwide, the survey showed a decrease in abortions of about 12 percent since 2010.”

But, as the editorial also notes:

“There’s no evidence that women choosing against abortion because of new state restrictions are numerous enough to account for the drop. The Associated Press survey found that abortions also were down in states that haven’t tightened their laws. The biggest decrease in abortion, percentage-wise, was in Hawaii, a state with relatively liberal abortion policies….

What is accounting for the decrease in abortions is a decrease in the condition that precedes an abortion: pregnancy. In North Carolina, according to the latest statistics available, reported pregnancies dropped from 148,922 in 2010 to 139,582 in 2013. Abortions likewise fell from 30,952 to 22,820.”

In other words:

“The way to further reduce abortion in North Carolina isn’t to cut funding for Planned Parenthood but to increase funding for sex education and contraception.”

What a tragedy it is that those who fight to ban abortion and send women back to the back alleys (are you listening Governor McCrory?) can’t at least see this reality and join the effort to stop unintended pregnancies from happening in the first place.