Online Searches of Abortion Meds Rose After SCOTUS Ruling Leaked

Spike in abortion medication searches was immediate following leak of draft SCOTUS majority opinion on May 2, 2022

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WEDNESDAY, June 29, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Following the leak of a draft ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), there was an increase in Google searches for abortion medications, according to a research letter published online June 29 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Noting that a draft SCOTUS majority opinion was leaked on May 2, 2022, foreshadowing the decision to overturn the 1973 Roe V Wade decision, Adam Poliak, Ph.D., from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, and colleagues examined whether internet searches for abortion medications increased following the leak. Weekly national trends were described for the entire study period; hourly search volumes were studied for 72 hours before and after the leak.

The researchers found that the greatest number of Google searches for abortion medication in the United States was seen in the period following the SCOTUS leak, with about 350,000 internet searches in the week of May 1 to 8, 2022. Based on analysis of hourly search trends, the spike in abortion medication searches was immediate after the leak. During the 72-hour period after the leak, searches were cumulatively 162 percent higher than expected; all 72 hourly periods had search volumes outside of the expected prediction interval. During the 72-hour postperiod, the highest cumulative search volume was seen for Nebraska, followed by Iowa and Missouri. States with more restrictive reproductive rights had significantly more searches.

"Continued surveillance is needed to monitor how changes in federal and state abortion laws affect demand for information about abortion medications and other medical interventions," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to industry.

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