NARAL Pro-Choice America Releases New Report on Anti-Choice Disinformation Targeting Spanish-Speaking Communities
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Washington, DC — NARAL Pro-Choice America today released “Translating Abortion Disinformation: The Spanish-Language Anti-Choice Landscape,” a new report detailing how anti-choice disinformation disseminates online in Spanish-language spaces and how it could impact Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. In this first-of-its-kind report, NARAL examines all Spanish-language political advertisements from the 2020 election cycle that discuss abortion along with nine anti-choice Facebook pages with a combined audience of over 2.79 million followers. Several of these anti-choice pages repeatedly spread medically inaccurate information about abortion without any action from Facebook. This goes against the company’s stated commitment to removing and limiting the spread of harmful misinformation, particularly medical misinformation with real-world harms. Read the report in English and Spanish.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju released the following statement:
“We are at a critical moment in the fight for reproductive freedom, with the U.S. Supreme Court expected to overturn Roe v. Wade and end the constitutional right to abortion as we know it in just a few short months. It has never been more critical for people to have access to medically accurate information about abortion—no matter the language they speak. What’s clear here is that anti-choice extremists are capitalizing on social media companies’ failure to moderate Spanish-language disinformation. These platforms have a responsibility to limit the spread of disinformation about abortion care. Regardless of the language they speak, every person deserves to have accurate, unbiased information when making personal decisions about pregnancy and abortion care.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America Research Manager Gabriela Rico, lead researcher on this report, released the following statement:
“Latinx communities are targeted with anti-choice disinformation constantly—I have seen this not only in my work on this report, but in my own family and community. This report details how the Spanish-speaking anti-choice movement largely paints the Latinx community with overly broad strokes, relying on stereotypes such as the falsehood that all Latinx people oppose abortion and are of Catholic faith. This is not only a false, racist assumption, but a way for the anti-choice movement to erase the majority of Latinx people who support reproductive freedom—often because of, not in spite of, their faith. Spanish-speaking people deserve to receive accurate information about reproductive freedom, not to be lied to and used as pawns in a political game.”
NARAL’s research has consistently found that social media platforms do little to fact-check or remove disinformation about abortion from their sites in English or Spanish, despite stated commitments to removing medical misinformation. Facebook has been particularly problematic in its moderation decisions around content promoting anti-choice disinformation. Reporting has indicated that Mark Zuckerberg himself was involved in the platform’s decision to bow to a right-wing pressure campaign and censor a fact-check by medical experts of a demonstrably false English-language post about abortion. Facebook has also allowed anti-choice groups to advertise their stigmatizing and medically unproven claims that medication abortion can be “reversed,” including after reporting revealed that these ads targeted minors.
Other key findings in the report include:
- High-engagement Spanish-language articles about abortion policy in the United States overwhelmingly lean anti-choice and originate from religiously-affiliated outlets.
- Anti-choice influencers and pages on Facebook largely promote the same messages and disinformation about abortion in Spanish as their English-language counterparts. A key difference, however, is that Spanish-language pages and influencers often promote explicitly anti-feminist messages, whereas English-language activists often co-opt feminism to attack abortion.
- Overlap between English- and Spanish-language anti-choice groups and activists exists, particularly with respect to graphics and content from Live Action, a primarily English-language anti-choice organization and “news” site.
- Catholicism plays a major role in anti-choice messages about abortion from Spanish-language influencers and outlets, pushing a false narrative pitting religious identity against support for abortion access.
- Spanish-language political advertisements during the 2020 cycle rarely mentioned abortion, and those that did dubiously framed Democrats as “extreme” on abortion and fearmongered about abortion later in pregnancy.
Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case regarding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that directly challenges Roe and could end the constitutional right to abortion as we know it. If the Mississippi law is upheld in this case, it will open the flood gates for anti-choice lawmakers in states to take immediate action to ban abortion and radically shift the landscape of abortion access across the United States. It is more important than ever to combat anti-choice messages and disinformation targeting Spanish-speaking communities. Should Roe fall, the consequences will be swift and devastating: 28 states would likely take action to prohibit abortion outright. Of those, 13 states already have “trigger bans” in place, which would ban abortion automatically.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom at the federal and state levels—including access to abortion care, birth control, pregnancy and post-partum care, 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 8 in 10 Americans who support legal abortion.