Instagram, Facebook to remove all posts offering abortion pills

Facebook app on phone
Photo credit Getty Images

Following the Supreme Court's landmark decision to overturn abortion protections established by Roe v. Wade, Facebook and Instagram started removing posts about abortion pills.

The posts explained how women could obtain abortion pills through the mail without breaking laws, as more than half of all U.S. states are expected to end or restrict legal access to abortions. Some people even offered to personally purchase and ship the pills to women in pro-life states.

According to an analysis by the Associated Press, the social media platforms began removing the posts almost immediately following the court's ruling, as millions across the country were searching for clarity around abortion access. The posts included general mentions of abortion pills as well as the specific versions mifepristone and misoprostol.

Facebook not only removed posts, but it issued temporary bans to users as well, according to tech news website Motherboard. One user whose post said, "I will mail abortion pills to any one of you. Just message me," told the website they were notified within a minute that their post was removed. That user was later banned after they tried posting the same message again.

Instagram also blocked and then limited at least two hashtags related to abortion services -- "abortion pills" and "mifepristone" -- NBC News reported. Once blocked, a search of the hashtag displayed a message that related posts were being "hidden because some posts may not follow Instagram's Community Guidelines." The platform ultimately unblocked but then limited the hashtags, meaning the most recent posts with those tags aren't available to see and a user must scroll through older, more-liked posts.

When contacted for comment, a public affairs director at Facebook and Instagram's parent company, Meta, referred NBC News to a tweet from the company's communications director, Andy Stone.

"Content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, gift, request or donate pharmaceuticals is not allowed. Content that discusses the affordability and accessibility of prescription medication is allowed. We've discovered some instances of incorrect enforcement and are correcting these," Stone wrote.

The AP report noted that while posts mentioning abortion pills have been removed, similar posts for selling guns or marijuana are allowed to stay on the platforms.

It's not yet clear what impact the Supreme Court ruling will have on access to abortion pills, which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use up to 10 weeks into pregnancy. Last December, the FDA ruled that it would permanently allow patients to receive abortion pills by mail.