Jun 27, 2022 - News

Demand for self-managed abortion care expected to rise

Doses of mifepristone and misoprostol are pictured at a clinic in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, in May. Photo: Paul Ratje/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The number of Texans seeking self-managed abortion care will likely continue to rise, despite the end of Roe, experts say.

Why it matters: Texas clinics are closing their doors — even before the state's so-called trigger law goes into effect and makes performing abortion a felony — and research has shown that the demand for self-managed abortion care surged as restrictions were put in place last year.

The big picture: Texas legislators have already banned abortions after roughly six weeks and outlawed abortion-inducing drugs like misoprostol and mifepristone.

  • State law also makes it illegal to mail abortion pills, but legal experts say it'd be nearly impossible for Texas prosecutors to halt the mailing of medication from other states.
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday that states cannot ban mifepristone based on disagreement with the federal government on its safety and efficacy.

Yes, but: The end of Roe is unlikely to stop Texans from traveling for the procedure, purchasing medications through online sites or taking other steps to try to stop a pregnancy, according to University of Texas researcher Abigail Aiken.

Flashback: Aiken, who has also studied the safety and effectiveness of abortion medication in telemedicine, found that demand for self-managed abortion care in the state surged within the first week after Texas' law took effect in 2021.

  • The number of average daily requests for abortion medication made to the Austria-based nonprofit Aid Access from people in Texas increased by 1,180% over the previous daily average, leaping to nearly 138 requests per day, per research published in late February.
  • Demand for the medication remained high in the three months after the bill's implementation. The nonprofit averaged 29.5 daily requests in October, November and December.

What they're saying: Requests for abortion medication has not dropped off since then, Aiken told Axios on Friday.

  • "The demand in the early part of 2022 in Texas has not gotten any smaller," Aiken said. "We still have that tripling of requests (to Aid Access)."

The bottom line: Demand for abortions isn't going anywhere, according to Aiken.

  • "As we see surrounding states follow suit with the same kinds of bans, it's going to be harder for people to seek care by traveling," Aiken said. "That's why I think the demand for self-managed abortion is going to be greater."

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