Google searches for information on medications that induce abortion spiked after POLITICO published the Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, a study published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine found.
In the 72 hours after the news, searches for abortion medications jumped 162 percent compared to the three days prior. The week of the POLITICO report, Americans conducted 350,000 searches for abortion pills, the highest level recorded in any equivalent time span, the researchers said.
The authors of the study said the results indicate that the shift toward medication abortions would continue, but also warned that Americans frightened about abortion’s availability might seek to manage their own care without the help of a doctor or turn to a black market for abortion medications.
Searches were especially high in states that more strictly regulated abortion and have now banned it, or may soon do so, following the Supreme Court’s decision last week.
The lead researchers, John Ayers, an adjunct professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego, and Adam Poliak, an assistant professor of computer science at Bryn Mawr College, tallied Google searches for “abortion pill” or for specific drugs — mifepristone, mifeprex, misoprostol or cytotec — between Jan. 1, 2004, and May 8, 2022. They did not determine whether searchers attempted to get an abortion.
Searches in restrictive states
States with poor grades for abortion access from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, an abortion-rights group, were disproportionately represented among those with big increases in searches. The grades reflect restrictive policies in place before the Supreme Court’s decision gave states the ability to ban abortion.