Nearly half a century after Roe v. Wade, news coverage of abortion stories continues to be plagued by negative and damaging stereotypes about the procedure. Those stereotypes are the product of “abortion stigma,” and they pose a real threat to accurate abortion coverage.
Abortion stigma -- the “shared understanding” that abortion is morally wrong or socially unacceptable -- shows up in all facets of popular culture. But it's especially dangerous when it taints news coverage of abortion stories.
But abortion stigma also shows up in mainstream news reporting, often in subtle ways. Whether it's using misleading b-roll footage of babies and extremely pregnant women during abortion segments, or parroting conservative talking points about medical safety while discussing extreme efforts to regulate abortion clinics, media framing of abortion debates often reinforces the idea that abortion is risky cruel, and taboo.
News coverage that peddles abortion stigma has a real impact on public opinion, policy debates, and women's reasonable access to healthcare. It's time media outlets stop treating abortion like something shameful and start treating it like what it is - an important and basic healthcare option for women across the country.
Video by John Kerr, Carlos Maza, and Leanne Naramore.