US Newspapers Limit Public Understanding of Abortion
Abortion is a safe, common aspect of reproductive health care, but you wouldn't know it by the way it's discussed in major US newspapers.
A new study of every article and opinion piece about abortion published in the country's three largest newspapers between 2013 and 2016 reveals three trends that should trouble anyone concerned about the way the American public understands abortion.
- Abortion is rarely discussed substantively as a health issue of critical importance to individual and family health outcomes. Almost none of the 783 unique articles analyzed for the study even included basic facts on how common and safe abortion is.
- Where abortion is discussed rather than merely mentioned, it's usually as a political issue, such as state abortion restrictions.
- Coverage tends to personify fetuses, but ignore women's abortion stories. In fact, only 4% of the stories in the sample included the personal experiences of people who actually get abortions.
In other words, news coverage tends to frame abortion less as a safe, common aspect of reproductive health care than as a political hot potato and source of conflict. At the same time, it tends to imply the personhood of embryos while relegating women themselves to the background or not mentioning them at all. This strongly suggests that news coverage is doing a poor job of informing the public about abortion and in fact may be actively undermining public support for policies that protect abortion access.
You might not be able to find comprehensive, accurate information about abortion in the newspaper, but you can find it online. Visit AbortionPillInfo.org for reproductive health news, information about safe abortion with pills, and secure, private access to counselors 12 hours a day, every day.