Abortion Misinformation Is Flooding TikTok

Winnie NY

If you’ve been online at all since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade,  you’ve probably scrolled past countless retweets, Instagram posts, and Stories parroting the oft-repeated yet accurate sentiment: you can’t ban abortions, only safe ones.

As trigger laws restricting and outright banning abortion take effect across the country, the truism is beginning to play out. On TikTok, specifically, creators are suggesting — in coded language — that ingesting certain herbs and foods can cause miscarriage, a phenomenon first reported on by Input.

Alarmed, doctors are taking to social media to clarify that these supposed abortifacients don’t work. In fact, some of them can be deadly.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade, the internet has acted as a powerful information-sharing tool, connecting those in need with critical resources. A website called Plan C is providing the public with up-to-date information on how to access abortion pills, and the collective Online Abortion Resource Squad is providing accurate and supportive answers to anyone with abortion-related questions.

Still, social media is a hotbed of dangerous misinformation. Debunking TikToks that cite ingredients such as mugwort, Queen Anne’s lace, and papaya seeds as “natural contraceptives,” Dr. Josh Trebach told Bloomberg: “There is no herbal or plant or tea or tincture-based method of abortion that is safer or more effective than the current medical standards of care.”

A rep for TikTok told Bloomberg that it had taken down most of the offending videos, citing user guidelines that forbid content “depicting, promoting, normalizing or glorifying dangerous acts that may lead to serious injury or death.” But at the time of publishing, searches for “contraceptive herbs” and other related terms led to several problematic videos posted in the last week.

While TikTok holds some responsibility in suppressing misinformation, we ultimately have conservative justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Brett Kavanaugh to blame for the harm caused by the toppling of Roe v. Wade. And, while the situation in the U.S. is dire, there are safer resources to consult than TikTok.

If you’re seeking information on how to access an abortion, visit Plan C or the National Network of Abortion Funds. If you’re not, donate to an abortion fund now.

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