Roe v. Wade: abortion misinformation spikes following leak, data shows

As if the internet wasn’t fertile enough for abortion misinformation, new data shows misinformation and intentional misinformation have increased after Draft Roe v. Wade from the US

A May study conducted by Zignal Labs and shared with Global showed 186,046 “less reliable mentions” of abortion online in the three days that followed. Leakage, coming from both left-wing and right-wing accounts. That’s double the number of abortions mentioned online in the last month.

On TikTok, videos tagged #roevwade and #abortionban have flourished, some offering unfounded advice on how to have a self-abortion at home, with more than 200,000 likes.

A TikTok video tagged #RoevWade instructs viewers on the “safest” way to have an abortion at home. The social media site flagged the video with the warning: “Participating in this activity could result in injury to you or others.”

Noor Ibrahim via TikTok

While some misinformation is being spread unintentionally, abortion rights advocates in Canada say others have a clear agenda to deceive.

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Tasia Alexopoulos, National Spokesperson of Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC). “When we (receive) misinformation, what we are seeing is more based on emotions, not facts. ”

Alexopoulos says Canada’s biggest disinformation microphones come from Crisis pregnancy center (CPC)major lobbying organizations and anti-choice politicians.

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Commune People’s Committees are clinics posing as fake abortion providers, disseminating myths about abortion to women and pregnant women in crisis. Fake abortion clinic in Canada outnumber abortion providersaccording to ARCC.

Much of the misinformation circulating in the midst of Roe v Wade discussion resembles the recycling myth Canada has seen for years, says Alexopoulos. For example, she points to a baseless link between abortion and breast cancer, abortion and depression, and Canadian women can have an abortion one day before it’s due.

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Chats on Roe v. Wade south of the border has caused a stir among Canadians. During the week of draft leaks, Canadians searched for “ban abortion” and “home abortion“More than they did in the last 12 months, according to Google Trends.

Searches for “abortion ban” in Canada spiked during the week of May 1-7, the largest increase in a 12-month period.

via Google Trends

The highest number of searches came from Manitoba, one of the lowest abortion providers in Canada (about four per province). Searches from New Brunswick, which has a regulation to only fund abortions performed in a hospital and signed by two doctors, came in third.

“Disinformation and misinformation can really hurt people who want an abortion, because that decision is so time-sensitive,” says Alexopoulos.

Maru’s opinion poll in May showed that 78% of Canadians want abortion rights reinforced by federal law. While Canada is the country of majority choice, women’s rights advocate Dana Stefov said the anti-abortion movements “live well” here too, and there are active movements to elect pro-life MPs to the House of Commons.

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“What we need to be concerned about is that anti-choice movements are coming from the US into Canada. It would be naive to ignore the impact of these movements on Canada,” Stefov told Global over Zoom. “We have seen” [disinformation] for at least a decade if not more, it is escalating.

Stefov said that while she has seen some misinformation spread in the country since the Roe v Wade leak, Canadians need to “put a lot of despair into context.” The country has come a long way in fighting for reproductive rights and has made one of its biggest commitments to address neglected areas of the population. sexual and reproductive rights agenda, she speaks.

Still, major hurdles remain such as geographical distance and high travel costs to clinics in other provinces, contraceptive methods not covered by provincial health programs, and inadequate sex education in schools .

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As the discussion continued, a Trent University professor said that political parties like Liberal, Conservativesand NDP profited from the panic, ahead of the Ontario election.

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“I see political parties wanting to encourage their base to campaign and vote based on this leak,” said Kathryn Norlock, Kenneth Mark Drain Chair on Ethics. “This leads to confusion about whether abortion is legal in Canada and legal in every province… I think it is completely misleading to say that there is something our voters in Canada must be aware that abortion rights here have not changed. ”

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Although Canada is in a very different position than the US, Norlock said it’s imperative for Canadians to pay attention to what’s going on south of the border, “because we’re not immune to a setback in rights. “

Amidst the uproar, the public can also hear stories about why women “need” a wide range of health care services. ”

ARCC told Global it is not worried about do-it-yourself abortions in Canada despite a longstanding barrage of misinformation. But Norlock said there is still a fear that “people who are desperate will turn to people they consider trustworthy and try whatever they hear.”

All three experts say Canadians need to speak up for their government and that local MPs continue to advocate for reproductive rights, even if it “doesn’t feel as pressing” as it does in the US.

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“What science and evidence tells us is that abortion rates do not decrease when abortion is criminalized. What happened was an increase in unsafe abortions.”

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