A world divided by COVID 19 and mainly in denial over climate change is yet again finding itself weighing the value of science against misleading beliefs over abortion rights. Fueled by Roe v. Wade case’s overruling, the internet is today fuming with abortion misinformation.
So, what false information and data are being circulated online? How can they harm you? And how should you beware of falling into the trap of the disinformation trap?
The Abortion Misinformation Battle
Major news events are always fertile grounds for misinformation to flourish. And Roe v. Wade case’s overruling gave the misinformation peddlers the perfect opportunity to advance their false narrative around abortions.
Now, the tech platform, including YouTube, Twitter, Tik Tok, Facebook, and Twitter; plus far-right social networks like Rumble, Parler, TruthSocial, and Gab, are flooding with misleading data and information about abortions.
According to media insight from Zingal Labs abortion-related information from unreliable sources increased more than twice on Twitter and Facebook after the leak of the supreme court Roe v. Wade’s draft decision. And now, when the decision is out, online disinformation and confusion over abortion are swelling at an alarming rate.
Misleading anti-abortion propaganda has always hindered pregnant women from seeking medical and legal assistance.
However, the overturning of the Roe-Wade case has dramatically altered the abortion landscape in the US. Experts fear that such a drastic transformation will make online information an even more crucial factor in people’s abortion decisions and experiences.
Therefore, the reversal of abortion rights in the US is calling for the much-needed opportunity to open up new, reliable channels of information sharing.
But what’s happening is completely opposite. Fake medical experts are advertising a variety of false information about abortions and medicines online.
The Anti-Abortion Activist Instigating Abortion Misinformation
Approximately 60% of Americans agree that abortion should be legal in almost every situation, according to Pew Research.
However, alongside the hearing and ruling of the Roe v. Wade case, the anti-abortion activists have injected a slew of misinformation and anti-scientific data into the discussion. Muddying the narrative of abortion, these misinformations have found a way to turn a minority view into federal law.
Studies underline that pro-life advocacy groups are still the primary propagator of misleading anti-abortion information online. Among these organizations is Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs); a non-profit organization notoriously famous for releasing misleading data in a bid to influence people toward its cause.
A report by Al Jazeera below focuses on the misinformation campaigns by pro-life activists and organizations. The report discloses how anti-abortion organizations are weaponizing social media to spread misinformation to the masses.
Misinformation Flooding on Social Media
Today, social media platforms are flooded with false information about harmful natural contraceptives and home remedies for abortion.
One of the hashtags, # pennyroyaltea, which promotes the use of herbal abortion abortifacients, has gotten almost 1.1 million views on TikTok. Over 157 million people have viewed a different hashtag for mugwort.
The most popular video using that hashtag has more than 350,000 views and reads; “Mugwort tea should not be consumed while pregnant as it may resemble your menstrual cycle and trigger the loss of the fetus. Please don’t do this again.” Even though the title for the video says, “Life hack # roevwade # womensrights,”
Furthermore, there are also panic-causing fake data circulated on social media. For example, a tweet with over 50k+ likes claims that most Planned Parenthood clinics are shutting down post the ruling. But, this report from Frace 24 explores the depth of the tweet and concludes it is fake.
Tik Tok Promoting Herbal Abortion Remedies as a Desperate Measure
TikTok, the short video social media platform launched for sharing byte-sized content, is at the eye of the abortion misinformation storm. Following the Roe-Wade anti-abortion ruling on Friday; reproductive rights and pro-life advocates and activities are seemingly taking matters into their hands.
A very common text flashing on different social media sites reads, “If you’re a female in America worried about your future, just know there is a herb for every situation.’ This is followed by a list of herds, including blue cohosh, pennyroyal, and mugwort.
Meanwhile, medical professionals are concerned about the trends of TikTok creators promoting herbs as drugs. Mary Jane Minkin, Yale School of Medicine’s gynecologist and clinical professor remembers 49-year-old cases where women performing abortions at home resulted in sepsis or death.
One of the most common of these “Tik Tok prescribed” herbal abortifacients are pennyroyal, a sweet, minty-smelling plant. However, according to the medical toxicologists from Lowa City, Josh Treabach; pennyroyal contains pulegone which is metabolized in the body and produces toxins that can cause liver necrosis, vomiting, indigestion, seizures, liver failures, comas, and even death.
Another Tik Tok’s popular herbal abortion remedies include Blue Cohosh, a herb made up of methylcytosine compound. But Treabach confirms that in large doses, the herb can cause profuse drooling, muscle weakness, heart rhythms, seizures, and in the worst-case scenarios, even coma, and death.
Abortion Misinformation: Dark Times for Women’s Rights
Doctors are also worried that abortion restrictions may discourage individuals from obtaining proper medical care. According to emergency physician Trebach, the fact that some people cannot receive the care they require suggests a more severe issue within the healthcare system.
Now, with over 33 million American women deprived of abortion rights; a lot of women are under the onslaught of false information tornado. Especially when using Tik Tok, Facebook, or Twitter for medical advice is much easier than scheduling an appointment with your gynecologist eight weeks from now.
The bans on abortion are marking the beginning of a dark time in so-called progressive America, a country that cares more about its unborn children than those in the classrooms. And as a country putting women’s rights and health second, it is high time for the government to meddle and take steps toward halting the circulation of such life-threatening misinformation online.