Rise in Google searches for abortion pills could lead to increase in unsafe abortions: study

A spike in internet searches for abortion pills may indicate that women in the United States will try to obtain the drug without a doctor’s supervision, according to a new study.

Researchers from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and the University of California, San Diego reviewed online searches following a leaked May 2 Supreme Court draft opinion that Roe v. Wade would be canceled. The court finally did so on June 24.

The team analyzed Google search trends that mentioned “abortion pill” or “abortion drugs” from January 1, 2004 – when the search engine began collecting data – until May 8, 2022.

The results showed that the week following the leak of the draft notice corresponded to a record number of searches on Google in the United States with 350,000 searches from May 1 to May 8.

Protesters participate in a “die in” on June 24, 2022 in Norman, Okla., following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Sue Ogrocki/AP

When the team looked at data based on hourly trends, they found that within 72 hours of the opinion leaking, there was a 162% increase in online searches for abortifacient drugs.

Medication home abortions involve someone taking two pills to end a pregnancy and are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use up to 10 weeks after conception.

The first pill is mifepristone, which was approved by the FDA in 2000. It works by blocking the hormone progesterone, which the body needs to sustain a pregnancy.

This causes the uterine lining to stop thickening and break down, detaching the embryo. The second drug, misoprostol, taken 24 to 48 hours later, causes the uterus to contract and the cervix to dilate, which will expel the embryo.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that focuses on sexual and reproductive health, and additional reports.

The results also showed that states with more restrictions on abortion had higher search volumes than states with fewer restrictions.

Nebraska had the highest search volume, followed by Iowa and Missouri, respectively.

The team said their study is limited because they cannot confirm that searches for these drugs were linked to attempted abortions.

In this file photo from January 22, 2021, the drug misoprostol is shown.

Victor R. Caivano/AP, FILE

But residents of these restrictive states trying to obtain abortion drugs that traditionally require a prescription are an alarming trend as it suggests they will attempt unsafe abortions with potentially unregulated counterfeit pills and without supervision. ‘doctor.

“The increased interest in abortifacient drugs should alert physicians to the fact that many of their patients may pursue this option with or without them,” the authors wrote.

Dr. Erica Jalal contributed to this report.

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