Roe’s Flight c. Wade leads a wave of medical misinformation and dangerous DIY procedures

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Since news broke that the U.S. Supreme Court is now in favor of overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade, who would ban or severely restrict access to abortion in at least 22 states, the internet has been flooded with misinformation. Everything from false stories about women’s fertility to “home-made” abortion alternatives, conspiracy theories and reproductive health misconceptions have permeated TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.

The majority of the American public does not want to see a reversal of Roe v. Wade. For those who might need to circumvent state abortion bans, mail-order abortion pills — or abortifacients — are a key strategy. Abortion advocates campaign for them as a way to help millions of people safely end unwanted pregnancies themselves. But among patients and doctors, public knowledge about abortion in the United States is lacking. A 2020 study showed that 36% of respondents had never heard of a medical abortion, which consists of mifepristone and misoprostol, the drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to induce one. Nurses and ob-gyn’s have taken to social media to reassure their followers that medical abortion and taking Plan B (also known as the morning after pill) are not the same thing.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before people started sharing information about home abortion options, with some promoting herbal methods that date back to ancient times. It goes without saying that herbal abortion methods can be toxic and cause liver damage or even death. On wellness and new age TikTok, users have pleaded for their use in light of Roe’s news. “Guys! Be careful! Herbs such as sage, mugwort, fennel, and goldenrod are dangerous! In large amounts, they could ‘accidentally’ cause miscarriage,” one TikToker said, along with a warning “they can also cause organ failure, be safe”. The video has nearly 36,000 likes. “It’s really sad that this is the type of information we have to spread now,” wrote one commenter. “Nonchalantly adding them to my Amazon cart,” said another.

In another corner of the internet, an anarchist collective posted a video telling people how to make misoprostol pills themselves. Misoprostol, an abortifacient, has various uses by obstetricians, but is also used to treat ulcers in horses. The creators of the video got the drug from a veterinarian and squeezed it into a three-dose pill regimen. The practice is reminiscent of the ivermectin craze, which saw people buy the antiparasitic drug for horses in huge quantities as an unproven treatment for Covid. Conspiracy theorists and QAnon adherents, who have been touting ivermectin for months, jumped on the misoprostol video with angry responses, lamenting that it’s suddenly socially acceptable to take “horse pills” (this is not) despite having been lambasted for years for promoting alternative covid treatments.

Roe dominates the conversation in the area of ​​conspiracy, as everywhere else. Conspiracy expert Mike Rothschild described how the leak “really stole the thunder” from all the other theories floating around in recent weeks. Nobody talks about Ukrainian biolabs anymore, he says. “Everything that dominated right wing conspiratorial talk over the past few weeks was instantly forgotten,” Rothschild told me, explaining that the left thinks the right leaked the Roe document, and the right thinks the left leaked it. The fact that it was leaked immediately turned far-right conversation around a “massive conspiracy theory”.

IN OTHER INFODEMIC NEWS

I’m pleased to report that our Shanghai source, who spoke to us last week about his heartbreaking escape from the locked megalopolis, is back at his home in Beijing. I asked his family if they were concerned about an impending lockdown in the Chinese capital, as train stations are closed and mass isolation centers open. They don’t even entertain that thought right now. It’s hard to imagine how the Chinese Communist Party will control the people of Beijing if it locks down the capital.

On Weibo and WeChat, an extraordinary phone conversation between a CCP cadre and a frustrated Shanghaier has gone viral. “I’ve never seen Shanghai like this. The Chinese are easy going, you might say. But when you play with their basic food and survival, you cross the line,” the resident says. “If you take away our bowls of rice and starve us, we will revolt.” He adds: “It’s science. It’s not a problem you can solve with great ideology or a strong fighting spirit. It’s scientific! And what you’re all doing is pseudoscience.

Disgraced French doctor Didier Raoult, who notoriously touted and prescribed the unproven hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19, is once again in the spotlight. The National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) has discovered flaws in its clinical studies carried out before the pandemic. Raoult and his research institute have been accused of non-compliance with ethical rules during clinical trials. The agency also filed a legal complaint against Raoult’s institute, for illegally launching trials and presenting false documents. Last November, Raoult underwent a disciplinary hearing and received a warning for promoting unproven treatments for Covid-19.

A Russian journalist published a news article claiming to have found a supposed “NATO biological laboratory” in a destroyed building in Mariupol. On May 3, Semen Pegov, founder of the Telegram channel “WarGonzo” and a regular guest war correspondent on Russian state television, shared a video with his more than one million subscribers. “Residents told me that the laboratory had been set on fire by the security services themselves on February 24, immediately after the announcement of the special denazification operation”, he says while walking through the rooms. and digging through the rubble. “It is quite difficult to say exactly what type of research was going on here, there is no official information. But the fact that kyiv evacuated research and samples from here even before the Mariupol storm, says a lot , if you ask me,” Pegov concludes. Claims that NATO labs are producing biological weapons labs have been one of the main narratives adopted and promulgated by Russia to justify its actions in Ukraine, and they have been repeatedly proven wrong.

WHAT WE READ

Last month, our partners from Reveal investigated the misinformation campaign behind a trusted “mom-friendly” pregnancy website, the American Pregnancy Association. It turns out the site really is the brainchild of a Texas anti-abortion activist, and is filled with inaccurate information about abortion and reproductive health, peddling unproven blood tests, treatments for infertility and pregnancy products.

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