When Lee, 30, fell pregnant last year she knew she wanted an abortion, reports news.com.au.

Under severe financial and physical strain, she Googled nearby facilities and made an appointment with a "pregnancy information centre".

But Lee is from Corpus Christi, Texas, where "pregnancy information centres" are anything but.

"They gave me fake statistics - high death rates from abortion, suicide brought on by depression, getting breast cancer because you aborted and didn't breast feed, the high probability that you'll ruin your cervix if you go through the surgical option," she tells news.com.au.

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"They told me that medical is not reliable and I will most likely birth a deformed foetus, and that they let anyone do a surgical abortion."

There are estimated to be 4000 such clinics in the United States, known as Crisis Pregnancy Centres, dwarfing the 700 legitimate abortion clinics operating nationally. This isn't just "fake news", but fake institutions - with real and damning consequences.

While Lee realised the centre was a ruse, many in her situation have been pressured to go through with a pregnancy, or fallen victim to the tactic of promising an appointment with a physician that keeps moving until the woman is beyond the legal limit for termination.

It sounds extreme, but while the United States was rocked by Donald Trump's election last November, an equally remarkable political phenomenon was taking place.

Democratic representation at a state level dropped to its lowest since the Civil War, as Republicans captured the legislature or governorship in 40 out of the 50 states. The key issue that unites America's red state leaders? Rolling back women's reproductive rights.

"There has already been an unprecedented 334 abortion restrictions enacted in 32 states since 2010," said Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at advocacy group the Guttmacher Institute.
"This year, we are expecting an all-out assault on family planning and abortion."

Alana, 29, is from Phelps County, Missouri - a state with only one abortion clinic. "It's two hours east of where I live, and there is a 72 hour waiting period between appointments and mandatory counselling."

"The clinic didn't accept my health insurance, so I would have had to pay for the abortion out of pocket, as well as fuel, a hotel room, and my follow-up appointment. That's easily $800 - an entire month of pay for me," she said.

The prevailing climate has spurred a growing community of women to circumvent politicians and community taboos, and help each other. "I turned to online forums for support from women who've gone through it," said Alana. "In the Bible Belt, it isn't something you talk about out loud."

There are scores of tightly guarded social media groups, as well as a number of abortion sites where women share information and experiences. Internet searches for "self abortion" have spiked over 40 per cent since 2011, while a recent study estimated that at least 100,000 women in Texas have terminated their own pregnancy.

After her experience, Lee joined those 100,000 women, deciding to try her luck with online pharmaceutical providers. "The hardest part of finding medication was figuring out if it was a scam," she said.

"Will I get the medication I need? Will it kill me? What happens if I have to go to the ER because I'm bleeding too much? Will I go to jail?"

On top of the trauma of performing the termination illegally, women are feeling alienated within their own communities.

"The loneliness of knowing that people you love may disown you for what you've done was the hardest part for me," Lee says.

Alana felt similarly cornered yet determined to follow through with her decision. "I looked into web forums where women have posted about sourcing their own pills. There were a few horror stories - one teenage girl who died of an infection after doing a home abortion stuck in my mind," she said.

"That's the biggest risk, that you won't expel everything and die of sepsis. The other big risk is bleeding out."

Terrified, alone, and unable to take time off work, Alana used her weekend to conduct a major medical procedure herself. "All I had was my pug. She stayed right by my side the whole time and snuggled with me harder when I cried."

The obvious question, with the country's maternal mortality rates on the rise, and studies showing that access to contraception leads to lower abortion rates, is why conservative legislatures are so determined to cut funding and restrict family planning services.

"Republicans saw in 2011 that a lot of the issues they ran on, such as jobs and the economy, were going to be nearly impossible to legislate, so they turned to social issues, and abortion rose to the top," said Ms Nash.

"They're holding tight on abortion and guns because they are losing other issues such as LGBTQ rights and marijuana policy."

For Lee, who's still recovering from depression and anxiety from her experiences, "they seem to think that if they aren't controlling someone's choices, they aren't fulfilling their destiny".

Alana agrees that this is only the beginning. "There is no doubt in my mind that more restrictive laws are going to be passed over the next four years, and women are going to die as a result," she said.

Elle Hardy is an Australian writer based in the South of the United States. Follow her on Twitter @ellehardytweets.