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Abortion drug internet searches surged after SCOTUS leak

When information suggesting that he U.S. Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade leaked in May, internet searches about abortion drugs surged to an all-time high. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams checks out a study that explored the issue and shares what the researchers say people and healthcare providers should know.

U.S. Supreme Court
Visitors mingle outside of the United States Supreme Court building.
Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg
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ROCHESTER — In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion on Roe v. Wade, researchers from the University of California San Diego wanted to find out whether the number of internet searches for abortion drugs changed. The did a study and found it surged to an all-time high.

Using Google search trends, the researchers identified searches in the U.S. that used the term "abortion pill" or the names of abortion medications.

Results showed that during the time period right after the SCOTUS leak (May 1 to May 8, 2022), about 350,000 internet searches for abortion medication happened in the US. And many searches originated in states with abortion restrictions.

The researchers say that heightened interest in abortion drugs should alert physicians that patients may pursue this option with or without them. And that information about how to safely and legally get abortion medication should be accessible on line. They also say on-going surveillance of changing abortion laws should be readily available.

The study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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For more information about abortion medication, check out this related story.

Use of a two-drug combination now make up over half of all abortions in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion research organization. About 350,000 Google searches using those terms or "abortion pill" were conducted during the week of May 1 to 8, according to the authors of the new research letter. That first week in May is when the Supreme Court's decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked and widely reported.

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Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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