The headlines were bold but the numbers were hazy on a new study claiming 4 percent of Texas women had attempted to self-induce abortions.
On Wednesday, Vox ran a story with the headline, “At least 100,000 Texas Women Have Resorted to Inducing their Own Abortions.” Soon, The Atlantic ran a similar headline, and Mother Jones tweaked its related story, with “Up to 240,000 Women Have Tried to Give Themselves Abortions in Texas.”
At first glance, these statistics seem surprising and, to a pro-lifer, saddening. But a closer inspection of the study all these headlines were pulled from shows the numbers are vague at best and misconstrued at worst.
Biased At the Outset
The organization who designed the survey, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, which is associated with The University of Texas at Austin, has been reporting on abortions, self-induction, and reproduction for years. It’s their beat.
But they’re not nonpartisan, numbers-only scientists. In 2013, they published a study called “The Public Threat of Anti-Abortion Legislation.” Biased much? The study began, “Texas is only one of several states attempting to regulate abortion out of existence — a trend that should be deeply troubling to the medical community.” So suffice it to say these researchers enter their studies with a bit of a bias, one that leans towards fewer government restrictions on abortion rather than fewer abortions, period.