Online searches for abortion drugs have increased after a while The Supreme Court’s draft decision overturning Rowe v. Wade was leaked in early May, according to a published analysis. Clothing Internal Medicine.
Researchers have analyzed Google searches in the United States that refer to terms such as “abortion pills” or drugs “mifepristone / mifeprex” or “misoprostol / cytotech”. They pulled data from January 1, 2004 to May 8, 2022 and studied the search volume 72 hours before and after the leak.
The analysis found “record national heights” for abortion pill-related search terms, with about 350,000 searches in the weeks from May 1 to May 8. The researchers noted that the search spike was “instantaneous” after the leak and that searches were 162% higher than expected within 72 hours after the draft was released.
In addition, abortion pill searches were more common in states that were more restricted about reproductive rights or had less access to care. Nebraska has the highest search volume in the 72 hours since the leak, followed by Iowa and Missouri.
Why it matters
The researchers noted that their study could not confirm which of these investigations were involved in the actual abortion attempt or determine the population data of people seeking abortion drugs.
However, they said the increase should make physicians aware that their patients may decide to use abortion pills whether providers are involved or not.
“Although mifepristone / mifeprex or misoprostol / cytotec require a prescription and their use is restricted in some states, Internet searches may reflect how people explore the safety and efficacy of these drugs, how to obtain them or stockpile them in anticipation of low access,” they wrote.
“Some researchers are looking for alternative and / or illegal abortion drugs. It is essential that information on where women can get abortion drugs legally and safely is accessible online; including telemedicine consultations with healthcare professionals.”
Drug abortions have become increasingly popular since mifepristone was approved by the FDA in 2000 as a method of abortion. According to the Gutmachar Institute, a reproductive health research institute that supports the right to abortion, drug abortions accounted for 54% of U.S. abortions in 2020, up from 37% in 2017.
Even before With the Supreme Court’s final decision overturning Rock last week, many states have already restricted abortion access to drugs supplied through telehealth. Following the ruling, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that states could not ban the use of mifepristone because the drug was approved by the FDA.
On Tuesday, HHS Secretary Xavier Besser said the agency would support access to drug abortions, safe travel to states that allow abortions, and health privacy.
“There are no magic bullets,” Besara said. “But if we can do something, we’ll find out and we’ll do it on HHS. In fact, I got this instruction from the President of the United States.”