Facebook and Instagram are removing posts offering abortion pills

Boxes of the drug mifepristone line a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on March 16. Since the Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, Facebook and Instagram have begun to remove posts offering abortion pills to those who may no longer have access to abortion care.

Boxes of the drug mifepristone line a shelf at the West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on March 16. Since the Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, Facebook and Instagram have begun to remove posts offering abortion pills to those who may no longer have access to abortion care. (Allen G. Breed, Associated Press)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Since the Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, Facebook and Instagram have begun to remove posts offering abortion pills to those who may no longer have access to abortion care.

Social media posts explaining how people can obtain abortion pills and offering to mail them have been appearing across social media platforms since Friday. As soon as they started, Facebook and Instagram began to take some of the posts down.

The Associated Press and Vice Media both found instances of users having posts removed and having accounts suspended for offering to mail abortion pills.

On the day of the Court's ruling, a Vice Media reporter tested the claims by creating a Facebook post using the phrase "abortion pills can be mailed." The post was flagged in seconds and later removed for violating the platform's rules on buying, selling or exchanging medical or nonmedical drugs.

But when the reporter made the same post replacing "abortion pills" with "painkiller pills," the post remained on the platform without issue.

After creating a second post containing the words abortion pills, the account was suspended for 24 hours.

AP also tested out Facebook's enforcement of its policy. On Monday, an AP reporter created a post offering to mail abortion pills and that post was removed in one minute.

A warning was put on the account for violating rules regarding "guns, animals and other regulated goods."

When the reporter later created the same post but changed "abortion pills" to "a gun" or "weed" the post remained up without any violation.

Related:

Under federal law, marijuana is illegal, as is selling or distributing it through the mail.

Abortion pills such as mifepristone are FDA approved and the agency permits them to be mailed with a prescription. Laws in some states prohibit them from being prescribed through telehealth and require an in-person consultation with a physician.

In a tweet on Monday, Meta spokesman Andy Stone said content that "attempts to buy, sell, trade, gift, request or donate pharmaceuticals is not allowed." He added providing information on accessing prescription medication is allowed and Meta is correcting any incorrect enforcement of the policy.

In a statement on Friday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said states can't ban mifepristone "based on disagreement with the FDA's expert judgment about its safety and efficacy."

Mifepristone can be used in combination with misoprostol to treat miscarriages or to terminate an early pregnancy. About 10% to 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to Mayo Clinic.

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Carlene Coombs

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