January 22, 2016

Today is the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. In a year where Planned Parenthood has been under attack by ideologues and shooting maniacs, it's easy to forget how instrumental media has been in undermining women's rights to choose.

Media Matters is here to remind:

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.

In right-wing media, abortion stigma is typically pretty obvious: abortion is referred to as sickening, violent, and unethical, while abortion providers are smeared as villains and compared to Nazis.

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.

Let's do better in the coming year.

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