Online searches for the abortion pill reached a record national high during the first week of May, right after the leak of a draft of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
According to research published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine, Google searches that mentioned the abortion pill or the abortion medications mifepristone/Mifeprex and misoprostol/Cytotec surged after the May 2 leak.
Seven public health researchers reported in the letter that during the 72 hours after the May 2 leak, hourly searches for the terms were 162% higher than usual.
Altogether, they said 350,000 Google searches came from the U.S. during the first week of May and were “more common in states with restrictive reproductive rights.”
The largest number of searches came from abortion-restricting states Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, respectively.
The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this month, declaring that the Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion and state lawmakers may regulate the procedure. Within hours of the ruling, Missouri became the first state in the nation to ban nearly all abortions.
The research letter cautions that last month’s spike in online searches does not mean more Americans had chemical abortions by ordering pills.
The researchers wrote that the “internet searches may reflect people exploring the safety and effectiveness of these medicines, how to obtain them, or stockpiling in anticipation of curtailed access.”
• Sean Salai can be reached at email@example.com.
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