Reproductive Rights and the Media—Women Front & Center
| December 31, 2016
Dear WMC Friend,
I am writing to tell you about WMC’s research on media coverage of reproductive rights and to ask your support of our work to ensure that women’s voices and perspectives are seen and heard in the coming deluge of attacks on reproductive rights.
In three weeks we inaugurate an anti-choice President who has pledged to appoint anti-choice justices to the Court who will overturn Roe v. Wade.
Anti-choice majorities control the U.S. House and Senate.
We have been here before – but our numbers in the Supreme Court are split and the difference of just one justice will affect laws and women’s lives for decades to come.
In the 90s, I remember when anti-choice activists added the tactic of terrorism to their arsenal and abortion providers and staffers were targeted – and killed -- their images placed on “Wanted – Dead or Alive” posters, and their names added to death lists.
Now we have Internet trolls, fake news, and organized cyber bullying that can threaten lives, jobs, reputations and elections.
We also have a media where male voices and perspectives eclipse female ones -- even in coverage of women’s reproductive issues -- according to research by the Women’s Media Center.
When it comes to stories about abortion and contraception, women’s voices are systematically stifled – as writers and as sources. In articles about elections and reproductive issues, men’s voices prevail, especially in coverage of presidential campaigns, with male reporters telling 67 percent of all presidential election stories related to abortion and contraception.
The gender of the reporter appears to affect whom they choose to quote and how they cover the story. WMC’s research shows that female journalists quote women more often than their male counterparts, while quotes from male sources predominate in articles written by men.
Gloria Steinem, co-founder of the Women’s Media Center, says “Since women play a greater role in reproduction, it would make sense for women to be the majority of the sources and authorities in its coverage.”
We agree and we hope you do too.
Please support our work to put women’s voices and concerns front and center in the media.
The American public — and especially women — deserve accurate, informed and experienced media coverage on reproductive health, state and federal legislation, abortion and contraception.
In solidarity and friendship,
P.S. The Libra Foundation made this research possible. We could not have done it without their support. We need your support too. You can read the full report on media cover of reproductive issues here.
The Women's Media Center makes women visible and powerful in the media. We do this in the following ways: media advocacy campaigns, media monitoring for sexism, creating original content, training women and girls to participate in media, and promoting media experienced women experts. We are directly engaged with the media at all levels to ensure that a diverse group of women is present in newsrooms, on air, in print and online, in film, entertainment, and theater, as sources and subjects.