More restrictions don't necessarily mean more safety when it comes to women's health

By Lauren Mazzo

Here are two words you never want to hear together: "DIY" and "abortion." But unfortunately, new abortion restrictions are making it harder for women to get safe abortions, so they might be trying to terminate their pregnancies themselves. (Related: How Risky Are Abortions, Anyway?)

In 2015, there were more than 700,000 Google searches looking into self-induced abortions, according to an analysis by the New York Times. Though it's unclear how many women are actually following through with self-induced abortions, the searches are concerning; there were tens of thousands of searches about inducing abortion with herbs like parsley or vitamin C, about 4,000 searches for directions on coat hanger abortions, and a few hundred searches related to uterus bleaching and punching one's stomach.

These searches increased by about 40 percent in 2011, which is when a number of new state laws began restricting abortion, according to the New York Times analysis and the Guttmacher Institue's record of state laws. A whopping 92 provisions were enacted in 2011 that restricted abortion access. What's more, the highest search rates for self-induced abortions were in Mississippi-which has just one abortion clinic, says the New York Times. The states with the lowest search rates? They're the ones with what the Guttmacher Institute classifies as the "least hostile" or "supportive" abortion environments, with one or zero restrictions in place.

Texas, on the other hand, is classified as one of "very hostile" states with six to 10 restrictions in place. The state has been in the middle of the debate due to a 2013 law that restricted abortion access and is under a split decision in the Supreme Court. Since the law was passed, over half the facilities providing abortion care in the state have closed, according to a recent Texas Policy Evaluation Project survey. The survey estimates that between 100,000 and 240,000 women between the ages of 18-49 in Texas have ever attempted to end a pregnancy without medical assistance.

This all makes the atmosphere around women's reproductive rights feel strangely '70's. If restrictions continue in this direction, they could essentially put us back to before the days of Roe v. Wade. (Thankfully, unintended pregnancy rates have fallen to a 30-year low, according to the Guttmacher Institue. Most likely because this birth control method is becoming more popular.)


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