Anti-Choice Laws Spur Backchannel Abortions
(Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson)
A haunting trend has emerged in Google search behavior among U.S. citizens, indicating the effects of anti-choice legislation sweeping across the country in recent years.
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz discusses an alarming uptick in search queries for alternative means to terminate pregnancies.
The state with the highest search rate for backchannel abortion methods is Mississippi, the state with perhaps the most stringent anti-choice legislation in the books. State lawmakers have passed measures that place onerous requirements on abortion clinics, raising near-insurmountable bureaucratic and financial hurdles that effectively drive them out of operation. The state has one remaining clinic, which could face closure in a case before the supreme court.
Mississippi officials state that the anti-choice law is “medically legitimate health and safety regulation,” which arose from “highly publicized reports of deaths and injuries involving abortion facilities across the country that raised serious doubts as to the safety of women undergoing abortion procedures.”
Research has proven that women are 14 times more likely to die from childbirth.
In the op-ed, Stephens-Davidowitz breaks down the list of search phrases – beginning with seemingly more benign queries including “buy abortion pills online” and “free abortion pills,” and entering decidedly more harrowing territory.
“How to self-abort,” “how to have a miscarriage,” and “how to do a coat hanger abortion” are increasingly common search phrases.
Mississippi is by no means alone. Texas is party to another supreme court case that calls into question the constitutionality of similiar legislation that has shuttered all but a handful of clinics across the state, the second most populous in the nation. Other states have gone after women’s healthcare provides such as Planned Parenthood, which was recently defunded at the sate-level in Ohio through anti-choice legislation signed into law by Governor John Kasich.
Planned Parenthood has become target number one for anti-choice activists, most evidently in the widely discredited, heavily doctored videos disseminated by the organization Center for Medical Progress, which is now under investigation for its libelous actions.
As nonprofits and fundraisers respond to these threats to women’s healthcare and basic rights, Key Elements Group will provide ongoing coverage.