YouTube says it will begin removing “instructions for unsafe abortion methods” or content that “promotes false claims about abortion safety.” Company made the announcement on Twitter, saying it falls under the Medical Disinformation Policy. It also adds an information panel to related health information videos on abortion from the National Library of Medicine, similar to what it has done for vaccines and some other topics.
“Starting today and over the coming weeks, we will be removing content that provides instructions for unsafe abortion methods or promotes false abortion safety claims under our medical misinformation policy,” the official YouTube account tweeted. “Like all our health/medical topics, we rely on published guidelines from health authorities. We prioritize connecting people to content from authoritative sources on health topics, and we are constantly evaluating our policies and products as real-world events unfold.” It linked to an explanation of its misinformation policy that “banned the promotion of alternative abortion methods rather than chemical or surgical methods considered safe by health authorities.”
Several lawmakers have asked YouTube parent Google to limit Search and Maps results that direct people seeking abortions to “fake” clinics where doctors try to discourage them. Today’s decision, however, seems to have focused more on videos promoting self-imposed abortion using herbs such as mugwort and pennyroyal, a practice many herbalists have warned is unreliable and can cause serious health problems. (Abortion via mifepristone or misoprostol pills, on the other hand, is generally considered safe and reliable, even when taken outside of a doctor’s supervision.) The videos have been reported primarily on TikTok — where some have become extremely popular.