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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TRAP Facts We Learned from the Latest “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”


In case you missed last night’s clip about abortion and TRAP laws on the John Oliver show, we have summarized a few key points below. What can you do to help? Educate yourself and then educate others. Oh, and don’t forget to vote in local elections. You can watch the entire clip here. 

  • Despite what the media wants you to believe, most people in the US (36%) think that there are a FEW circumstances under which abortion should be legal. 29% think abortion should be legal under ANY circumstance. 13% believe abortion should be legal under MOST circumstances. While 19% believe that abortion should NEVER be legal.
  • In 2010, 70 abortion clinics in the US had to shut their doors.
  • Even though abortion is technically legal in the US only four states have 1 abortion clinic left
    • North Dakota
    • South Dakota
    • Missouri
    • Mississippi (that means Mississippi has 4 times as many S’s as it does abortion clinics)
  • HB-2,a TRAP law in Texas that passed in 2013, requires abortion clinics to meet the same building standards as outpatient surgical centers even though 90% of abortions occur in the first trimester. At this stage of abortion, there is no cutting involved and only mild sedation (if any.) The law also requires doctors to have hospital admitting privileges even though legal abortions have a mortality rate of 0.00073% (10 times less than dying from a colonoscopy). Coincidentally, you don’t need hospital admitting privileges to run a birthing center even though 12% of women were transferred to a hospital after a birthing center admission.
    • Ex. A clinic in TX had to close because their hallways were only 3 ft wide vs the required 8 ft wide. The width is set in place to accommodate 2 passing gurneys, a stipulation that is unnecessary for a clinic that mostly accommodates women who are only in the first trimester. You don’t need an operating room to take a pill.
  • More and more states are requiring doctors to actively spread misinformation such as :
    • abortion may lead to complications such as bleeding, infection, and damage to organs (these are the same complications that can come from continuing your pregnancy.)
    • having an abortion can increase risk of breast cancer (there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support this statement)
  • Some states require that a woman be shown an ultrasound even if she doesn’t want to see it. She must also listen to a doctor describing what is on the ultrasound. If a woman doesn’t want to see it, she may “cover her ears or eyes and refuse to listen.”
  • Mandatory waiting periods (some that last 72 hours) between the initial consultation with the doctor and the actual procedure are detrimental to women who have to travel far. Women are forced to take multiple trips or plan to spend at least three days away from home (not to mention they have to pay for the cost of travel and accommodations and miss work).

It’s not enough for abortion to just be legal, it also has to be accessible.

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Trapped, A Documentary That Explores the Detrimental Effects of TRAP Laws

TRAP lawsTrapped, a Sundance award winning documentary talks about the effects that recent TRAP laws have had on American women. While Republican lawmakers are purporting that these TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws are set in place to insure the safety of women’s health, it’s not hard to see their ulterior motive, to outlaw abortion all together.

Since the Republican takeover of Congress in 2010, clinics all across the US have been forced to shut their doors because of the preposterous standards set in place by these conservative legislatures. Since 2010, over 250 TRAP laws have been passed.

In the film, director Dawn Porter introduces audiences to a handful of independent clinics scattered throughout the South, interviewing their employees, owners, and patients. The film also touches on the fact that women in these states must now travel even greater lengths to receive the care they need. The release couldn’t have come at a better time considering that the Supreme Court will rule on whether or not these TRAP laws are an “undue burden” in June.

The Trapped trailer opens with an eye opening quote, “Women are going to have abortions, it’s just that they’re not going to be safe and legal.”

Watch the trailer for the movie here: http://www.trappeddocumentary.com/. Movie premieres March 2016 in cities across America.

*image by Unsplash

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In 2015, 46 of 50 states considered passing a total of 396 anti-abortion laws

photo-1433588616917-dcbcc63429f42015 was not a good year for abortion-rights and it doesn’t look like 2016 will be much better. Last year, 46 of 50 states considered passing a total of 396 anti-abortion laws. Of those 46 states, 17  actually passed 57 of those suggested. Of the restrictions passed, there are four main topics that lawmakers are targeting: counseling and mandatory delays, medication abortion, abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy, and targeted regulation of abortion providers.

Here are some of the anti-abortion laws that passed last year alone:

  1. Florida and Tennessee passed mandatory delay measures
  2. Arkansas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma lengthened mandatory delays
  3. Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, and Montana attempted to prevent women from obtaining abortion care via telemedicine
  4. Arizona and Arkansas adopted legislation that requires doctors to give women seeking abortion false information about the procedure.
  5. Kansas and Oklahoma enacted legislation that prevents women from obtaining a safe method of abortion after 14 weeks.
  6. West Virginia and Wisconsin passed legislation that bans abortion beyond 20 weeks.
  7. Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, and Oklahoma and Tennessee have enacted TRAP laws (Target Regulation Abortion Provider) which targets clinic closures and have nothing to do with protecting the health of women.

If are a woman who happens to live in Oregon or Maine, consider yourself lucky. In Oregon, women will now be able to obtain birth control pills without visiting a doctor first. And Maine plans on expanding the Medicaid coverage of family planning individuals who earn up to 209% of the federal poverty level.

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My Letter to the Editor in NY Times: Another Year, Another Round of Abortion Debates

steamA letter I recently wrote to the NY Times editor was just published yesterday. The letter is in response to an article published on December 19, 2015 entitled The Reproductive Rights Rollback of 2015Read the entire letter here.

The year in review:

  • States have enacted 288 abortion restrictions since the beginning of 2011
  • In 2015 alone, state legislators passed 57 new constraints on a woman’s right to choose.
  • Lawmakers have been writing TRAP laws (or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) that disguise their true intent, to eradicate abortion altogether.
  • Going after the health clinics causes an increase in closures, which then increases the chance that a woman will attempt a self-induced abortion.
  • It is estimated that 100,000-240,000 TX women have attempted a self-induced abortion, likely due to having limited access to legal abortion clinics.
  • More than 24 states already require waiting periods for abortions and an additional five more states joined their ranks this year.

It seems that the assault on a woman’s right to choose isn’t going away any time soon. There is no doubt that 2016 will be filled with even more new constraints. Stay informed, stay alert.

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