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



Media portrayals of emergency contraception (EC) may influence public health policy and the public's acceptance of this reproductive health option.


We investigated the accuracy of newspaper coverage of EC, 1992-2002.


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.


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.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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