The Surprising Way TikTok May Help Boost Abortion Care

As news spread about the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, medical professionals quickly took to social media to inform the public of available resources.

The court ruling allows each state to decide whether or not abortion procedures will be legal (per CNBC). The decision has sparked criticism, protest, and for some, celebration across the United States. Concerned citizens and healthcare professionals worry about the aftermath of having the constitutional right to get an abortion taken away.

Dr. Nisha Verma, a fellow with The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, tells CNN, "People are already having to leave their communities to access care, because access is already limited for many people, and we expect that this is going to get worse."

In an effort to inform and help, links to abortion funds and services went viral on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook following the ruling (via USA Today). CNN notes that a TikTok trend has grown among medical professionals, offering their skills to help colleagues in states where abortion is still legally practiced.

Hayley Wombles, a travel nurse from Illinois, joined in on the TikTok trend and posted a video saying she's willing to travel to provide help and support. Wombles explains to CNN, "I follow a lot of medical professionals on TikTok and it was inspiring to me to see so many of them being like, 'Hey, we know that various states that are still allowing medical abortions, they're going to be flooded.'"

The risk of public health information on social media

While social media allows positive efforts to educate and provide support, there are also risks of potentially deadly misinformation. Social media platforms including TikTok are monitoring and shutting down posts that claim certain toxic herbs can stop a pregnancy (per Bloomberg). Medical professionals say they started to see an increase in such content following the Supreme Court draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade in May 2022.

Josh Trebach, an emergency physician and medical toxicologist, took to Twitter to debunk viral TikTok posts suggesting herbs could terminate a pregnancy. Trebach tells Rolling Stone, "I think it's a very, very challenging time. My biggest concern is that these home remedies, these DIY herbal plant abortions, are being viewed as an alternative to medical treatment and that is not correct."

Doctors are worried there will be an increase in desperate measures to end pregnancies following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. "Misinformation can be harmful because it may lead people to try to end their pregnancies in an unsafe way, potentially exposing them to serious bodily harm," Dr. Nisha Verma tells Bloomberg.

Seeking support online for medical concerns isn't new, but consumers are warned that not all TikToks or other social media posts are reliable sources (via Verywell Health). It's best to ask healthcare providers questions about your personal health before following online advice.