Contraception or abortion? Inaccurate descriptions of emergency contraception in newspaper articles, 1992-2002

Sandi L. Pruitt, Patricia Dolan Mullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Media portrayals of emergency contraception (EC) may influence public health policy and the public's acceptance of this reproductive health option. Objectives: We investigated the accuracy of newspaper coverage of EC, 1992-2002. Methods: We conducted a content analysis of a sample of 1077 articles in 113 newspapers discussing both EC and abortion and determined the frequency of confusion between the two. Results: Of all articles, 44.5% (n=479) included at least one instance of confusion between EC and medical abortion. Inaccurate portrayal of the mode of action of EC as medical abortion occurred in 31.8% (n=343) of articles; 13.1% (n=141) inappropriately applied terms such as "abortifacient postcoital contraceptives" for EC. Conclusions: Errors were prevalent, persisted over time and may have contributed to incorrect beliefs about a form of contraception that is used infrequently, despite its potential to deter unintended pregnancy and abortion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-21
Number of pages8
JournalContraception
Volume71
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2005

Keywords

  • Content analysis
  • Emergency contraception (EC)
  • Media
  • Medical abortion
  • Newspapers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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