Daughter of Wands is caught in some internet-hampering weather today. I am filling in, and would have done so a lot earlier if I weren't anxiously trying to finish three different late assignments before the end of the day. Lately several of us have had reason to ask for a helping hand from our fellow bloggers: exams, extra shifts at work, application deadlines, family stress, business trips.
We have so much going on in our lives (and so much of our work already contributes to the abortiony movement), why keep blogging? Why not drop this obligation every now and then, when "real life" gets crazy busy?
Here's one reason, from an article published a few months ago that bounces around in my head every time I think about taking days off of blogging: ‘Abortion’ Googled more where abortion access is restricted. (For a PDF of the original article in BMC Public Health, click here.)
Basically, two Children's Hospital doctors (who don't have any particular vested interest in abortion per se) proposed that internet search data might shed light on the regional impact of health policies, just like it might be shedding light on infection patterns (remember when Google searches for flu-related terms were found to closely mimic the pattern of flu infection?). To test this, they considered abortion both within the US and across countries, comparing the number of abortion-related searches in different areas, local abortion rates, and local abortion policies.
Abortion search volume was significantly higher in states where fewer than 10 percent of counties had providers, and in those with a mandatory waiting period, mandatory counseling, mandatory parental notification for minors, or mandatory parental consent for minors.They concluded that both in the US and abroad, "the volume of Internet searches for abortion is inversely proportional to local abortion rates, and directly proportional to local restrictions on abortion."
The less abortion (and information) is locally and openly available, the more likely people are to search for it elsewhere and more privately. That's a reason that I try to keep up my blogging even when I don't feel up to it, even on days when I'm not sure what new insights my post can bring to others. If people out there are trying to find information about abortion that they can't access in their given environments (a library book, a family doctor, a trusted friend, a local professor) then I hope they'll be able to find information that is accurate in letter, true in spirit, and published with honest intent. So I show up to work, if you will, to help my blogging colleagues (see blogroll at right) in this effort to make that information available.
Of course, you could argue that we don't know if some of those Googlers are, say, anti-abortion bloggers from anti-abortion states just doing their research by looking up other anti-abortion bloggers to circularly cite. Who knows! But that's not in contradiction with the study -- after all, bloggers are people too, and they need open access to accurate information. I'd love for some anti somewhere to stumble across this site and learn a bit of accurate information (such as: murdering placenta sandwich would terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being that feels pain and tries to do right by born women).
(You could also say, maybe causality goes the other way, since we don't know which came first -- what if researching abortion teaches women that it's something they want to avoid? For example, if they meant to visit the National Abortion Federation at prochoice.org but instead end up at prochoice.com, which publishes deceptions and outright lies about purported risks of abortion, that may scare them away from licensed abortion providers just like lies in 'real life' have always attempted to do. But the comparative lowness or highness of abortion rates and abortion restrictions are fairly consistent and enduring -- they pre-date the internet and certainly search engines -- so it's probably not that.)