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Words matter. They hold power, they influence opinions, and they change minds. And nowhere is this truer than in discussions about safe abortion and post-abortion care.
The way the decision to end a pregnancy is framed, the way it is described, and the exact words and phrases used can greatly influence views and behaviours.
In the latest episode of Curious Minds – Marie Stopes International’s podcast looking at issues around sexual and reproductive health and rights – the team discuss why language is so important in framing the debate around abortion. How do both the pro-choice and anti-choice movements select particular words and phrases to underpin and amplify their positions? And how can we ensure positive stories around safe abortion are told?
Marie Stopes International’s Communications Director, Katie Thompson, is joined by Jessica Glenza, US Health Reporter at the Guardian, and Marek Pruszewicz, Communications Director at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, to answer these questions and more, including:
- Why the Guardian US team have updated their style guide on speaking about abortion, to ensure reporting includes medically accurate language. Written in collaboration with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Jessica Glenza shares how the guide has inspired other news outlets in the U.S. too.
- Speaking about how they would like to ensure similarly accurate language is used in the UK, Marek Pruszewicz and Katie Thompson discuss their campaign to influence news outlets, and the push-back they received from the BBC. Their discussions also look at how emotive language can play into the hands of anti-choice campaigners, for example, in the US.
- Press release: BBC refuses to stop using medically inaccurate and biased language on abortion
- Why the Guardian is changing the language it uses to describe abortion bans
- Why the mainstream media need to put women - and not anti-choice rhetoric - at the centre of abortion reporting; Katie Thompson
- Reporter, you're partial in a 'heartbeat'; Marek Pruszewicz
- A brief history of a marketing masterpiece: branding the anti-abortion movement 'pro-life'; Annalisa Merelli