Skip to main content

YouTube says it will remove ‘unsafe’ DIY abortion guides

YouTube says it will remove ‘unsafe’ DIY abortion guides


TikTok has blown up with herbal abortion videos

Share this story

The YouTube logo on a black background
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

YouTube says it will begin removing “instructions for unsafe abortion methods” or content that “promotes false claims about abortion safety.” The company made the announcement on Twitter, saying it falls under its medical misinformation policy. It’s also adding an information panel to related videos that will offer health information about abortion from the National Library of Medicine, similar to what it’s done for vaccines and some other topics.

“Starting today and ramping up over the next few weeks, we will remove content that provides instructions for unsafe abortion methods or promotes false claims about abortion safety under our medical misinformation policies,” tweeted the official YouTube account. “Like all of our policies on health/medical topics, we rely on published guidance from health authorities. We prioritize connecting people to content from authoritative sources on health topics, and we continuously review our policies & products as real world events unfold.” It linked to an explanation of its misinformation policies that proscribed “promotion of alternative abortion methods in place of chemical or surgical methods deemed safe by health authorities.”

Several lawmakers have asked YouTube parent Google to restrict Search and Maps results that direct people seeking abortions to “fake” clinics where doctors attempt to dissuade them. However, today’s decision seems more likely to address videos promoting self-managed abortions with herbs like mugwort and pennyroyal, a practice many herbalists have warned is unreliable and can cause serious health problems. (By contrast, abortion via mifepristone or misoprostol pills is widely considered safe and reliable, even when taken outside a doctor’s supervision.) The videos have been primarily reported on TikTok — where some have become extremely popular.