Infographic: Fictional characters way more likely to die after abortion than real people

Abortion storylines on TV and Film over time

From ANSIRH’s infographic on abortion storylines onscreen. Full infographic available here.

Reproductive health researchers from ANSIRH recently did a census of all abortion-related storylines in American television shows and films. Although we’ve lamented the dearth of abortions on screen–particularly on primetime TV shows–according to the survey, over the last century, there’ve been 385 abortion storylines in pop culture–and recent years have seen a spike. 

However, the researchers note, “these stories are often inaccurate and not necessarily true to most people’s experiences with abortion.” For one thing, fictional pregnant people are much more likely to choose adoption than they are in real life. And, as illustrated in the chart below, abortion is portrayed as much more risky than it actually is. While the procedure is one of the safest out there–the risk of major complications, let alone death, is less than 1 percent–almost 10 percent of fictional women died as a result of their abortions. (And others were murdered before they went through with it, which is also very disturbing and telling.)

risk of death from abortion in real life vs. pop culture

As the researchers warn, these depictions matter. By reinforcing negative myths around the procedure, “they can have real effects on women’s experience of seeking abortion care.”

Click here to see the full infographic illustrating the findings.

(H/T Bitch magazine)

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

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One Comment

  1. Posted February 20, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I must wonder if anyone has done the same work on perception of the dangers of carrying to term in the media, given that the most recent peer-reviewed study (granted still controversial in some circles) shows it being 14 times as lethal as having an abortion.

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