Universal online searches for abortion pills is on the increase for decades now. Research shows that countries where abortion laws are more restrictive, there is greater search interest in abortion pills.
Buying pills online and sharing medical advice through different social media groups is the modern face of the so-called “DIY abortion”.
Countries with the strictest laws, where abortion is allowed only to save a woman’s life or banned altogether, have over 10 times higher search interest in the abortion pill Misoprostol compared to countries with no restrictions.
There are two main methods of inducing abortion; surgical and medical.
A medical abortion typically involves taking a combination of pills, Misoprostol and Mifeprostone, to induce a miscarriage. Misoprostol can also go by brand names like Cytotec.
While women in countries such as the UK will be prescribed this combination by a doctor, women searching for and purchasing the pills online in countries where access to abortion is restricted are often breaking the law, risking severe punishments.
Nigeria and Ghana are the two countries with the highest search interest in Misoprostol, according to the Google data.
Ghana only allows abortions in cases of rape, incest, foetal impairment or to preserve a woman’s mental health.
Nigeria is stricter still: abortion is only allowed in situations where a woman’s life is in danger.
Of the 25 countries with highest search interest in Misoprostol, 11 are in Africa and 14 in Latin America.
All but two – Zambia and Mozambique – either ban abortions altogether or allow them only to save a woman’s life or health.
The common phrases on google search include: “Abortion pills,” and “How to abort” are the most commonly asked questions in more than two-thirds of countries.
“How to use Misoprostol”, “Misoprostol price”, “buy Misoprostol” and “Misoprostol dosage.” Were other common searches on google.