2015 Google Searches Reveal an Increase in “Self-Induced Abortion”

woman's hands

When clinics are forced to shut their doors, the effects are disturbing. While some women are forced to travel further (sometimes across state lines) to get the proper care they need, others don’t have the funds, transportation, or time off to make a trip to their nearest clinic.

So what does a woman do if she is the victim of an unwanted pregnancy? Because of the sensitivity surrounding the privacy of abortion, and the breadth of women these laws affect, it can be hard to collect data that shows us exactly what happens when abortion clinics shut down.

We can, however, analyze the Google searches in states that are experiencing major closures. According to a recent article in the NY Times, Google searches in 2015 revealed an increase in “self-induced abortion”-related searches.

Here were some of the more popular searches, “how to have a miscarriage”, “how to self-abort”, “buy abortion pills online”, and “free abortion pills”. There were also searches for abortion inducing herbs or vitamins. In addition, there were some disturbing search terms such as “how to do a coat hanger abortion”, “bleaching one’s uterus”, or “punching one’s stomach.”

In 2015, in the US, there were more than 700,000 Google searches that were related to self-induced abortions. Not surprisingly, the demand for self-induced abortions were highest in areas where it is most difficult to get an abortion, such as Mississippi who has exactly one abortion clinic.

Lawmakers aren’t protecting women’s health when they shut clinics down for failing to meet hospital grade requirements, they are increasing the chances that women will have to self-induce their abortions in an unsafe manner. “Women are going to have abortions, it’s just that they’re not going to be safe and legal.” -Dawn Porter, director of Trapped, a Sundance award winning documentary that talks about the effects that recent TRAP laws have had on American women.

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