Google searches are able to show what happens behind closed doors across the U.S. Unfortunately, they present the reality that, when it comes to women’s health, we still live in a world as oppressive as before Roe v. Wade.
The New York Times published an article Saturday detailing “The Return of the D.I.Y. Abortion.” Using Google searches and data pulled from the Guttmacher Institute — a nonprofit organization that advances sexual and reproductive health through research — it showed how restrictive laws have led to an increase in dangerous at-home abortions.
In 2015 alone, there were over 119,000 Google searches in the U.S. for the exact phrase “how to have a miscarriage.” When you add this figure to the number of searches for other similar phrases, such as “how to self-abort” and “buy abortion pills online,” you get a startling result of over 700,000 self-induced abortion searches.
This is 2016, not the 1950s. Women should not be so restricted they believe coat hanger abortions are their only hope. For those who naively believe this horrifying practice was left in the ‘60s, know that, according to the study, there were over 4,000 searches on this gruesome procedure in 2015.
Our lawmakers have created a society that is detrimental to women’s health, and women are literally taking matters into their own hands.
The increase of at-home abortions shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to the Guttmacher Institute, our lovely lawmakers have passed a record-breaking 231 abortion restriction laws in the last four years alone.
Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, one of the leading health care providers in the country, addressed the horrifying issue.
"We are getting a sense of the very real impact these restrictions have on women, and it's deeply disturbing," she wrote in an emailed statement. "Most people thought we were well past the days of women taking matters into their own hands, but laws that make it impossible to get safe and legal abortion are taking us backwards."
In just the state of Texas, as many as 240,000 women have attempted to self-induce an abortion without medical assistance, according to a Texas Policy Evaluation Project study. Of those, the majority were women who reported they had difficulty obtaining reproductive health services due to cost and inaccessibility.
In fact, over half of the Texas facilities providing abortions have been shut down since 2013, making the service even more unattainable for those in need.
Eight of the 10 states with the highest search rates for do-it-yourself abortion methods are states the Guttmacher Institute considers hostile or very hostile toward abortion.
Obviously, states where local lawmakers cut funding and implemented impossible regulations over health care facilities were left with fewer options for women to seek professional help.
The U.S. Supreme Court will announce its verdict in June on one of the most influential abortion cases since Roe v. Wade. The case of Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt — which will determine if Texas law inhibits women from their right to an abortion — brought to the table the reality that government interference is harming women far more than helping them.
The justices appear to still be split on the issue, but hopefully they will realize the true impact their ruling has on the American people. The argument that eliminating clinics will decrease the need for abortion is obviously inaccurate. Instead, it is causing American women to revert to desperate measures.
If lawmakers claim to care about their constituents, they need to understand and make decisions that will keep their citizens safe. Closing clinics and making patients jump through hoops will only force more women to trust Google to help them with this process.
No woman should ever feel her only option is to endanger herself. Our politicians need to keep these horrifying numbers in mind when they choose to cast a verdict on women’s health.
Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.