Consider this your periodic reminder that TikTok is not the best place to source medical advice — including guidance on so-called “herbal abortions.”
In a devastating blow to reproductive justice, the Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that safeguarded abortion access across the United States for nearly 50 years. Many panicked Americans have turned to the internet and social media to take control of their reproductive health. Their fear is totally understandable — after all, it is now virtually impossible to get a safe and legal abortion in 13 U.S. states and counting — but medical experts are deeply concerned about safety in a post-Roe world.
For the record: Self-managed, at-home abortions via the pill are still legal and accessible throughout most of the country. You can even purchase these pills for use at a later time.
But since the Court’s ruling, Google searches for phrases like “DIY abortion” are on the rise, The New York Times reports. This uptick has coincided with a number of viral TikToks about herbal abortions, with well-meaning #WitchTok users recommending the ingestion of plants like pennyroyal, mugwort, and even parsley to pregnant people who want to induce a miscarriage.
I know: parsley? I sprinkled that on my pasta last night! It sounds safe enough. But, as clinical herbalists know well, many commonplace plants can be harmful or even deadly if ingested in certain quantities. Not to mention, herbs can have dangerous interactions with prescription drugs or dietary supplements like vitamins.
Needless to say, it is incredibly dangerous to pursue medical interventions of any kind — including herbal treatments — without the guidance of a doctor, clinical herbalist, or similarly qualified health care professional.
Seasoned herbalists like Sarah of Rowan & Sage, an Atlanta-based herb school and apothecary, have used their platforms to explain why social media is not the place to discuss abortifacients. It’s not a matter of gatekeeping; rather, herbalists put themselves and their followers at risk by disclosing this kind of information publicly.
It bears repeating: Abortion pills are still available by mail throughout a large part of the U.S. and are incredibly safe to use and manage at home. So, the next time you see a TikTok or tweet about using herbs to end a pregnancy, please keep scrolling.
Before you go, check out these stories of real celebs who shared their abortion stories: