Online searches for ‘abortion pill’ SURGED after Roe v Wade leak
Interest in abortion drugs rose after a May leak that the U.S. Supreme Court was likely to overturn Roe v Wade, a decision that constitutionally protected abortion in America.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) found that Google searches for the term “abortion pill” and for specific drug names hit record highs in the days after the case was revealed to be quashed.
In the three days since the leaked decision, searches have increased by a total of 162 percent.
The unprecedented leak of the Supreme Court ruling in early May sent shockwaves across the country and shocked the legal and political world. With many states already having “trigger laws” on the books that would go into effect after the decision, many tried to access the drugs while they still could.
Last week, the court’s official decision was unveiled, opening the door for more than half of US states to ban or restrict access to abortion.
Online inquiries about abortion drugs hit record levels after Supreme Court Roe decision leaked in May
In particular, the 72-hour period immediately after the Politico article was removed caused a massive surge in searches
on May 2, Politics The bombshell report revealed that America’s highest court was planning to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that protected U.S. abortion rights
The leak of a Supreme Court decision – which the judges later confirmed to be legitimate – is unprecedented. Experts could not recall a similar example in the history of the court.
Researchers, who published their findings Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine, collected Google search data from January 2004 to May 8, 2002 — six days after the leak — for the study.
They found that searches like “abortion pill” and others directly related to the drugs, such as “how to get misoprostol,” “order abortion pills,” or “buy mifepristone” soared to record highs.
In states with stricter regulations, such as those with “trigger laws” that reverse, prohibit, or severely restrict abortion immediately after Roe’s, the number of questions was even higher.
Home abortion pills are easy to use and require little medical supervision. Experts are still afraid of people who do
“In states with restrictive reproductive rights and where abortion is likely to be criminalized, women seem more likely to seek abortion medications in the wake of the SCOTUS leak,” Dr. Adam Poliak, a professor from Bryn Mawr College in the Philadelphia area who participated in the study, said.
“While abortion medications require a prescription, women can try to black-market drugs or dangerous options pending restricted access.”
Researchers believe this is partly due to an inherent shame or embarrassment some women have about asking about abortion.
“Openly discussing abortion is not something many are eager to do,” said Dr. Eric Leas, a professor at UCSD who participated in the study.
‘But searching online is anonymous. By examining aggregated searches on the Internet, decision-makers can understand the needs of the public based on the content and timing of their searches.”
The research team cautions that this data should also serve as a warning to health officials.
Many fear that many women in states where the procedure is banned, and who cannot afford to travel abroad, will resort to dangerous abortions at home.
While it is now much safer than it was for Roe to perform an abortion at home because of these widely available drugs, there are still some risks involved in bypassing a doctor when making medical decisions.
“Failure to meet the needs of online searchers can lead to more unsafe abortion attempts,” said Dr. Steffanie Strathdee, a distinguished professor at UCSD and co-author of the study.
“Already 7 percent of women of childbearing age have attempted a self-managed abortion in their lifetime and that number could rise after the SCOTUS decision.”
Planned Parenthood warns that taking the pills can lead to heavy vaginal bleeding, blood clots, severe cramps and fever.
In these cases, women are advised to seek medical attention. If a woman fears she will get into trouble for illegally using abortion drugs, she may not.
“Increased interest in abortion medications should alert doctors that many of their patients may end up having an abortion with or without them,” said Dr. Davy Smith, a physician at UCSD and co-author of the study.