For Immediate Release: September 25, 2020
The Tell the Whole Story initiative will serve as a resource for reporters, educators, experts, and the public to ensure more responsible media coverage of reproductive freedom and guard against amplifying right-wing disinformation
WASHINGTON — With President Trump expected to announce his nominee for a Supreme Court justice to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg imminently, and the first presidential debate on Tuesday, September 29th, NARAL Pro-Choice America has launched a new initiative, Tell the Whole Story. The initiative is dedicated to educating reporters, educators, experts, and the public on how to ensure more responsible media coverage of abortion and reproductive freedom, as abortion is front and center in politics and Donald Trump continues to amplify pervasive right-wing disinformation about abortion.
Tell The Whole Story will provide resources and share best practices to ensure fair, accurate, and inclusive coverage of abortion, reproductive health, Trump’s forthcoming Supreme Courtnomination, Roe v. Wade, and more. As part of the launch, NARAL has developed a comprehensive website, featuring information and resources, as well as analyses on abortion coverage. NARAL will also host periodic briefings with reporters, editors, educators, and advocates, drawing from ongoing work to track anti-choice disinformation tactics and narratives.
Statement from NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue:
“With abortion at the forefront of the national political conversation, the need for accurate and unbiased coverage of reproductive freedom and the impact of restrictions on abortion access is acutely important. Make no mistake: the anti-choice movement and its political allies are operating a pervasive, intentional strategy that relies on medical disinformation about abortion, purposefully erases women and pregnant people from the conversation, and casts aside science and facts. If there is any doubt about this, look no further than the recent and unprecedented parade of anti-choice extremism at the Republican National Convention.
They rely on these tactics of deception because the vast majority of Americans support reproductive freedom and resoundingly reject banning abortion. Through the Tell the Whole Story initiative, we look forward to partnering with reporters, consumers of media, and educators to ensure that news coverage of abortion avoids amplification of disinformation, includes relevant context, and centers the voices of medical experts and people most affected.”
The launch of Tell the Whole Story comes at a time when the anti-choice movement has done everything possible to eliminate abortion access during the COVID-19 pandemic, putting ideology over science when facts need to guide policy more than ever. Multiple anti-choice governors and attorneys general rolled back access to abortion care over the past six months, declaring abortion a “non-essential” healthcare service despite the fact that independent medical guidance makes clear abortion is time-sensitive care women need.
Anti-choice restrictions disproportionately hurt those already marginalized by our healthcare systems, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities, young people, and transgender and non-binary people. Despite this outsized impact of restrictions and barriers on BIPOC communities, an analysis NARAL commissioned found that only 5 percent of articles on abortion even mentioned that restrictions to abortion access have a disproportionate impact on BIPOC communities, while just 2 percent included the lived experience of a person of color.
In the leadup to the 2020 presidential election, attacks on abortion and reproductive freedom — including false and misleading claims and inflammatory language from prominent politicians, including President Trump — will only intensify, making accurate reporting on these topics critically important.
Tell the Whole Story seeks to strengthen news coverage in three distinct ways: (1) encourage reporting on abortion restrictions to include vital context about the consistent majority support for reproductive freedom and Roe v. Wade; (2) include the voices and perspectives of medical experts and people affected in coverage; (3) use medically accurate terminology and include relevant context in describing charged rhetoric and disinformation.
The Tell the Whole Story website also includes resources for the media covering abortion, including:
Information on independent medical experts and organizations;
Examples of articles that include perspectives of medical experts and impacted voices, proper/necessary context around misleading or inflammatory language, as well as an array of existing abortion stories in the media;
Key facts and polling on abortion and reproductive freedom;
Language guide for navigating anti-choice rhetoric, with definitions and context to include.
This initiative follows the June 2020 release of a comprehensive media analysis, “Accurate and Unbiased? A deep dive into how the media covers abortion in the US,” conducted by Global Strategy Group, which assessed who writes about abortion, what drives abortion coverage, how disinformation-based, anti-choice rhetoric is often adopted as seemingly neutral or descriptive terminology, and what types of voices are included in coverage. The study found that coverage of abortion in top-tier print outlets often excludes the voices of medical experts and pregnant people, lacks proper context on public opinion of abortion (that the majority of Americans support reproductive freedom), and parrots disinformation-based rhetoric, often using medically inaccurate or inflammatory language, such as “heartbeat” bill, without sufficient context or explanation.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates and chapters have fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom—including access to abortion, contraception, and paid family leave—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 7 in 10 Americans who believe every person should have the freedom to make the best decision for themselves about if, when, and how to raise a family.