October 30, 2023
By Laura Huss, Farah Diaz-Tello, Goleen Samari

Self-Care, Criminalized: The Criminalization of Self-Managed Abortion from 2000 to 2020 aims to reduce the criminalization of self-managed abortion in the absence of Roe by examining and identifying trends in the criminalization that occurred in the presence of its protections.

This report details the criminalization of 61 cases of people criminally investigated or arrested for allegedly ending their own pregnancy or helping someone else do so. The report explores cases between 2000 and 2020 that occurred across 26 states with the greatest concentration in Texas, followed by Ohio, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Graphic with a white background highlighting a finding from If/When/How’s “Self-Care, Criminalized” report. At the top is a purple and teal gradient bar with black text that reads, “Mapping Abortion Criminalization.” In the upper right corner is the If/When/How logo. At the top is black text which states, “From 2000 to 2020, at least 61 people were criminally investigated or arrested for allegedly self-managing their abortion or helping someone do so.” Below is a United States map with states where people have been criminalized for abortion highlighted in teal. The states are California, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. In the lower-left corner is the title of the report in black: “Self-Care, Criminalized: The Criminalization of Self-Managed Abortion from 2000 to 2020. Below that is a URL in teal where you can find the report: tinyurl.com/SelfCareCriminalized. To the right is a black If/When/How logo.

A follow-up to Self-Care, Criminalized: Preliminary Findings, released in 2022, this full report builds on the initial findings to show how people can interrupt and stop abortion criminalization. We share even more quantitative data about case progression as well as a thorough mixed methods analysis, including de-identified case narratives, related to how cases came to the attention of law enforcement, how law has been misapplied to prosecute people, use of technology in the cases, scrutiny of a pregnant person including their abortion and pregnancy loss history, and the lasting harm and negative consequences from this criminalization.

From this research, we know more about who has been criminalized for self-managing an abortion, how these cases made their way into and through the criminal system, the laws and practices that enable criminalization, and what is at stake for the accused.

Download the executive summary

Download the full report