Herbal abortion and home abortion now rank among the top web searches in the sub-category of reproductive rights. That’s not because women are eager to give themselves abortions; it’s because increasingly restrictive measures, public humiliation tactics, long waiting periods, and costly requirements have all pushed women into a desperate conundrum.
A Modern Take on ‘Back Alley’ Abortions
Before Roe vs. Wade, women desperate to end pregnancies were left with few appealing choices. Some threw themselves down flights of stairs or took dangerous poisons. Others resorted to coat hanger abortions.
Today, the Internet offers a bevy of self-styled experts, herbal “healers,” and fake doctors promising the next miracle cure. Some are well-intentioned, drawing upon centuries of tribal wisdom coupled with a little knowledge of plant chemistry. Others are only interested in making a quick buck, at the expense of the lives and health of women seeking abortions.
The result is a mounting public health epidemic. According to economist Seth Stevens-Davidowitz, who analyzes trends in Google searches, women are increasingly searching for terms such as “herbal abortion” and “home abortion.” The rise in these queries was steady between 2004-2008, with a sharp increase during the great Recession. In 2011, they surged again, coinciding with a sudden increase in anti-abortion restrictions.
By 2015, 160,000 queries sought alternatives to clinic abortions. Popular topics included home remedies for abortion, herbal abortions, and abortion-inducing drugs.
Why Abortion Restrictions Only Push Desperate Women to Dangerous Choices
Anti-choice extremists imagine that regulations designed to curtail abortion will somehow convince women to have their babies—or better yet, adopt them out to Christian families. But a barrier to abortion will not change how a woman feels about the pregnancy. Nor will preventing access to abortion suddenly offer a woman the resources she needs to carry the pregnancy to term.
Women have sought abortions for as long as there have been women, and it’s only been over the past 100 or so years that men have tried to restrict this access. Because abortion is a fundamental component of women’s health, women will not easily give up control over their bodies. And that means that abortion restrictions will lead to dangerous abortions that kill women and their babies.