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Contraception. 2005 Jan;71(1):14-21.

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

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  • 1Department of Health Promotion and Health Education, The University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center School of Public Health, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

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.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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