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Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Abortions may be on the Rise

With the laws restricting abortion unless on medical grounds, coupled with scientific improvements and unregulated availability of medical termination of pregnancy medications online and off-the counter without prescription, many women in the Kenya are looking for other options to terminate pregnancies, according to a proxy surveys in rural and urban areas as well as online search trends — and they're willing to take matters into their own hands.

Google searches can help us understand what’s really going on. They show a hidden demand for self-induced abortion.

Google search results indicate more and more Kenyans are scouring the internet for ways to self-induce abortions, whether by using herbal abortifacients without training, purchasing abortion-inducing medication online, in local chemists or across the border, or resorting to one of the most horrifying historical methods of terminating a pregnancy: coat hanger abortions.

There is a significant increase in searches for phrases like "buy abortion pills online" in 2015/16, in addition to tens of thousands of searches relating to herbal abortion methods like, strong tea, vitamin C or parsley. There were also hundreds of searches for more dangerous ways of ending a pregnancy, such as how to bleach one's uterus, or whether punching a woman in the stomach will lead to miscarriage.

And if the Google searches are any indication, the way they're doing so is scary. Of course, we cannot know from Google searches how many women successfully give themselves abortions, but evidence suggests that a significant number may.

Medical abortion (mifepristone and misoprostol) has the potential to contribute to reduced maternal mortality but little is known about the provision or quality of advice for medical abortion through the private retail sector and self-referred sales. There is no local research data, except from individual informants. Therefore, from a research angle, it may be worthwhile to use undercover patients who present themselves unannounced as genuine customers seeking a medical abortion and determine the current trends.

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