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Resource for Journalists Reporting on Abortion 

by WREN Staff on Mar 11, 2022

Media coverage of reproductive health care that is accurate and comprehensive can help reduce misinformation surrounding abortion care. The following resource, compiled by the South Carolina Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, offers medically accurate, easy-to-understand guidance for reporting on abortion in South Carolina.

Background: Abortion Access in South Carolina in 2022

Amid nationwide threats to abortion access, including an upcoming Supreme Court case that could eliminate or severely restrict the legal right to an abortion established by Roe v. Wade, South Carolina faces several risks to abortion access in 2022, such as two anti-abortion bills in the General Assembly.

These threats to reproductive health care access exacerbate an already dire landscape in South Carolina. The state’s maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the nation, especially for Black people. Abortion bans, which also disproportionately impact Black patients, further contribute to pregnancy complications and deny patients access to the necessary full range of reproductive health care.

When reporting on anti-abortion legislation in South Carolina, please consider the guidance below to ensure accurate language on each piece of legislation. 


General Guidance on Reporting on Abortion

Focus on people’s autonomy and choices

All abortion stories should be presented as equally valid and treated with compassion, rather than distinguishing between abortions as “elective”, “necessary,” “good,” or “bad.” Similarly, do not describe abortions that are self-managed outside of a clinic setting as ‘back alley,’ ‘coat hanger,’ or ‘dangerous and illegal,’ as these outdated terms stigmatize people who get abortions in ways that fit their circumstances and their ability to access care.

Provide context on barriers to abortion access

There is no other health care that faces as many medically unnecessary restrictions as abortion care. When writing about barriers to abortion access, it’s important to remember that these barriers are not the result of chance or nature, they are politically motivated restrictions put in place by certain lawmakers. When describing how difficult it can be for a person to access abortion, be specific about why this is the case, whether it’s due to insurance coverage restrictions or lengthy waiting periods at clinics. 

Refer to ‘people’ not only ‘women’

The right to decide if, when, or how to have children is a human right, not just a woman’s right. Using gender-neutral language like “people” and “parent” is the most accurate way to represent the reality that all kinds of people access reproductive health care, including transgender (binary and nonbinary) people.

Choose appropriate imagery

When selecting visuals, or working with a photo editor, be mindful of choosing images that are representative of your story. Images and headlines should be as unbiased as the article itself. For instance, for a story about people seeking abortion, do not use images of anti-abortion protesters who are not relevant to the story. When using images of pregnant people, use images that represent the actual gestational period discussed, rather than automatically using images that show people who are later in pregnancy. 


Recap of Accurate Language

Try saying… Instead of saying… 
“Pregnant people” “Pregnant women” or “mothers”
“Pregnancy” or “fetus” “Unborn baby”
“Ban on abortion around six weeks of pregnancy” or “near-total abortion ban” “heartbeat ban”
“abortion later in pregnancy” or “later abortion” “late-term abortion” 
“medication abortion” “chemical abortion”
“Misinformation about medication abortion” “Abortion reversal”
“Procedural abortion” or “aspiration abortion” “surgical abortion”
“Abortion provider” or “health care provider” “Abortionist” 


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