It's no surprise that information about self-induced, or do-it-yourself (DIY), abortions is circulating in response to the possible upcoming fall of Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion in the United States 49 years ago.

A quick scroll plugging in the term "herbal abortion" on TikTok reveals endless shorts of budding herbalists listing names of herbs that can cause abortions. Many of these videos do not list toxicity levels, potentially dangerous side effects or the fact that some of these herbs can cause severe organ damage or even death to the pregnant person.

The danger of herbal abortions

An abortifacient is any substance used to terminate a pregnancy. Common abortifacient herbs mentioned on social media include mugwort, pennyroyal, Queen Anne's lace, cotton root bark, parsley inserted in the vagina and high doses of vitamin C, to name a few. Pennyroyal is extremely toxic and has been linked to several instances of liver injury and death.

"On TikTok, I commonly see suggestions of vitamin C and ibuprofen, which definitely will not work, and that this content goes viral keeps me up many nights," said Jennifer Lincoln, M.D., an OB-GYN in Portland, Oregon.

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