Resources for Reporters
In our media analysis, we found that only 14% of articles in national print outlets included the perspective of a physician or medical expert and only 11% included independent medical research. Including the perspective and findings from independent medical experts helps to depoliticize facts and impact around abortion.
Medical experts and organizations to leverage include:
- Physicians for Reproductive Health (PRH)
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
- National Abortion Federation (NAF)
- Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA)
- American Medical Association (AMA)
- American Public Health Association (APHA)
- International Society of Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)
- Guttmacher Institute
Note that the anti-choice movement has actively worked to establish organizations dedicated to raising false claims about the risks of abortion under the guise of medical experts. These organizations include:
- American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG): A group of anti-choice obstetricians and gynecologists that promotes misinformation about abortion. AAPLOG is known for pushing false claims that Plan B emergency contraception causes abortion (though the medical community has overwhelmingly disproven that myth), that abortion is more dangerous than childbirth (despite research showing the risk of death from childbirth is 14 times higher than from abortion) and that abortion may cause breast cancer (a claim repeatedly debunked by both ACOG and the National Cancer Institute).
- Charlotte Lozier Institute: Charlotte Lozier is the research arm of Susan B. Anthony List, and pushes anti-choice opinion pieces, often disingenuously framed as “research.” Charlotte Lozier’s biased “research” reports have been plagued by methodological errors. Other reports revealed to have been fabricated by a relatively small set of “experts” who promote unproven or discredited theories about abortion.
- The Elliot Institute: Bills itself as a research group led by longtime anti-abortion activist David C. Reardon who has been the primary purveyor of the myth that abortion causes long-term mental health issues. An extensive medical review by the American Psychological Association found no evidence for this claim, and a deep analysis of Reardon’s work published by The Washington Post identified significant “logical flaws” in his analysis.
- American College of Pediatricians: The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a fringe anti-LGBTQ hate group that masquerades as the premier association of pediatricians in the United States. ACPeds only has a few thousand members in comparison to the American Academy of Pediatricians’ 64,000 members.
- WECARE: WECARE is an anti-choice misinformation group founded by discredited researcher Priscilla K. Coleman, who has focused her career on trying to establish a causal relationship between abortion and mental illness, despite the fact that this has been thoroughly debunked.
- “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” (CPCs): These fake clinics (often referred to as “crisis pregnancy centers” or “Women’s Health Centers”) masquerade as legitimate reproductive healthcare centers, yet are actually just anti-choice organizations that intentionally lie, shame, and mislead women seeking an abortion in order to block them from accessing abortion care. These centers frequently push health disinformation to dissuade women from having an abortion, falsely claiming that abortion poses health risks such as infertility, breast cancer, and birth defects in future pregnancies. As the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has repeatedly stated, there is no evidence whatsoever to support these medically inaccurate and deliberately misleading claims.
For more information about disinformation groups, please see NARAL’s 2018 comprehensive report here.
Examples of independent medical organizations and experts included in coverage:
The clinic goes on to claim that research has shown that carrying a pregnancy to full term “gives a measure of protection against breast cancer,” especially if it is a woman’s first pregnancy. However, both the American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization have stressed there is no evidence abortion can increase the risk of or cause breast cancer.
What’s more, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has, after reviewing all available evidence, noted that early research linking abortion to breast cancer used flawed methodology, thus invalidating their results. “Early studies of the relationship between prior induced abortion and breast cancer risk were methodologically flawed,” the ACOG said in a statement. “More rigorous recent studies demonstrate no causal relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk.”
The senators’ request is likely to go unfulfilled, because medication abortion is both widespread and has been found to be overwhelmingly safe. Mifepristone was used in 39% of all U.S. abortions as of 2017, the most recent year for which data is available. “Complications after medication abortion, such as hemorrhage, hospitalization, persistent pain, infection, or prolonged heavy bleeding, are rare — occurring in no more than a fraction of a percent of patients,” the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concluded in a landmark 2018 report. That report also found that there was no significant increase in complications when providers were allowed to remotely prescribe their patients abortion-inducing pills. In fact, the magnitude of the risk was similar to taking “commonly used prescription and over-the-counter medications.”
- Ted Cruz Faces Backlash for FDA Abortion Letter Stating Pregnancy Is ‘Not Life Threatening’ (Newsweek)
According to the Guttmacher Institute, medicated abortion was first approved by the FDA in 2000, and made up 39 percent of all abortions in the U.S. in 2017. Speaking to Newsweek last year as state legislatures across the U.S. debated bills restricting access to abortions, Dr. Meera Shah, a Fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, said “abortion care is incredibly safe and it’s actually one of the safest medical procedures that we can perform.” A Consensus Study Report on abortion in the U.S. published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published in 2018, concluded: “The clinical evidence clearly shows that legal abortions in the United States—whether by medication, aspiration, D&E, or induction—are safe and effective.”
“We know in times like this people aren’t going to stop getting pregnant,” Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, a board member for Physicians for Reproductive Health and an OB-GYN and abortion provider in Texas, tells Marie Claire. “We’re probably going to see more pregnancies as a result of this pandemic than we would normally expect during the summer months. So our services are going to continue to be needed.” She continues, “All the things that this whole country is going through right now? That’s what people seeking abortions go through every day: How am I going to pay for my care? How am I going to make money? How am I going to miss work? How am I going to get childcare? That’s what people seeking abortion care think all year, every year.”
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