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The Women’s Media Center Releases Media Guide to Covering Reproductive Issues

January 22, 2013


The Women’s Media Center Releases Media Guide to Covering Reproductive Issues

Gloria Steinem on Media Guide and Covering Issue as a Reporter 

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The Women’s Media Center’s Media Guide to Covering Reproductive Issues was released today as a resource to the press for accurate media coverage of reproductive issues as we begin a new year for national and state coverage of reproductive issues. (Click here to download the Media Guide).

The media guide is a resource for journalists, producers, and interview bookers to help them understand medical, health, legal, social policy, and other key issues in covering today’s reproductive stories and to identify key organizations and leaders who support and oppose reproductive freedom.

Contents include chapters that cover the following:

• Fact check of common inaccuracies in reporting about abortion and birth control
• Definitions of terminology in reproductive issues
• An overview of public polling on abortion and birth control
• A summary of key Supreme Court cases involving reproductive rights
• An explanation of the Hyde Amendment and how it disproportionately affects poor women, young women, and women of color and their ability to access needed abortion care
• Details about the Affordable Care Act and women’s health care
• A list of state legislation, passed and proposed, to restrict abortion and access to family planning funding
• The history of violence directed at doctors, staff and clinics performing abortions
• Two directories - one of the most active reproductive rights groups and one of the most active anti-reproductive rights groups

This media guide is released on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the landmark Supreme Court case in which reproductive freedom — the right to decide to have or not have a child without government interference – was recognized as a constitutional right.  The coming year will feature national and state-by-state campaigns to limit reproductive rights, especially for poor women, young women, and women of color.  The goal of this guide is to help the press get accurate, reliable facts and resources to tell the stories that are crucial to women’s lives.

“In 1969, I covered an abortion speak-out as a reporter for New York Magazine,” said Gloria Steinem, co-founder of The Women’s Media Center.  “For the first time in my life, I heard women standing up in public and telling the truth about the fear, humiliation and physical danger of seeking a then illegal abortion. I, too, had that experience, yet I had not known that I shared it with one in three American women. Now, this decision can be legal, safe and made by the woman and her doctor, as the majority of Americans agree that it should be, yet the one in three American women who needs an abortion in her lifetime -- and the American public in general -- often still has a hard time finding accurate media information, especially given an emphasis on reporting conflict and a de-emphasis of time and research. This Media Guide is offered in the hope of increasing public information about reproductive freedom -- which means the right to have or not to have children -- as an emerging human right."

Julie Burton, president of The Women’s Media Center, noted that in addition to using the media guide as a resource, she hopes that members of the media will also apply a gender lens to their stories to make sure the stories, experts, and sources quoted accurately reflect the impact reproductive issues have on women.

“After the election, The Women’s Media Center released research on the gender breakdown for sources discussing abortion and the presidential election and found that 73 percent of all print news sources were men, and 20 percent of the sources were women. We know women are 51 percent of the population and we know reproductive health issues affect all women, so we ask the press to make sure the stories they write, the sources they quote, and the experts they feature reflect the views of those most affected by reproductive issues.”

The Women's Media Center works to make women and girls visible and powerful in the media through strategic programs that transform the media landscape, and that include media training, media monitoring and activism,  media reports, media programs, and special initiatives.  The Women’s Media Center also produces original media content on our CBS radio show, Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan, and publishes Women’s Media Center Features that provide progressive women’s perspectives on both headline stories and timely events.  The organization was founded in 2005 by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem. (Steinem is a co-editor of the Media Guide).