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Posts offering abortion pills removed on Facebook and Instagram


As the US Supreme Court overruled the constitutional right to an abortion, some women were suddenly denied access to the procedure. Posts on social media offering to send the medication that could end unwanted pregnancy proliferated. Facebook and Instagram rushed to remove them.

Some posts offering to mail abortion pills to those in need were removed minutes after the court's decision, according to the Associated Press, which said it obtained one screenshot of an Instagram post taken down almost immediately. Vice Media was the first to report that Meta, a parent company of both Facebook and Instagram, started taking down posts about abortion pills on the same day as the court's decision.

Instagram even took down the page of Abortion Finder, an established directory of verified abortion providers endorsed by the government. Following public outcry, the page was accessible again after a few hours.

Meta is continuing to block some posts about abortion pills. On an anonymous account, a Cybernews reporter posted a message: "Just drop me your address and I will send you abortion pills". Facebook removed the post in just under a minute, stating that it violated community guidelines on drugs.

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AP reported that swapping "abortion pills" with "guns" or "weed" did not provoke a warning. Cybernews tested this by typing in "weed" instead of "abortion pills" – but got its post taken down within moments. The same message offering to send guns remained untouched. A simple "I can mail abortion pills" post was also allowed to stay and remained publicly visible at the time of the publication.

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While marijuana is illegal under US federal law, and it is illegal to mail it, the reverse is true for abortion pills. They can be legally prescribed by certified professionals online and sent over. The Department of Health and Human Services said it would take steps to increase access to medication abortion and did not rule out that the White House could sue states that try to ban abortion pills.

In a tweet, Meta's spokesperson Andy Stone acknowledged some inconsistencies in enforcing its community guidelines. "We've discovered some instances of incorrect enforcement and are correcting these," he said, explaining that Meta would not allow selling or gifting pharmaceuticals on its platforms but will permit content with information over accessibility to abortion pills

Other companies are also under the magnifying glass following the Supreme Court's verdict. A letter signed by 14 Democrat lawmakers urged Google to fix searches that sometimes send people seeking abortions to "fake" crisis pregnancy centers whose purpose is to steer women away from procedures. A study by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate found that 11% of the results for a search for an "abortion clinic near me" or "abortion pill" in some states were for centers that oppose abortion.

Meanwhile, Amazon said it placed a temporary purchase limit of three units per week on emergency contraceptive medication known as Plan B. The Supreme Court's ruling has led to a spike in demand for over-the-counter pills taken within days of sexual intercourse.


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