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Analysis of newspaper coverage of medication abortion during a time of evolving regulatory framework after the approval of mifepristone in Canada in 2015.
We conducted a content analysis of all Canadian newspaper articles on medication abortion (January 2015–November 2019) using an a priori framework including tone (pro–, neutral–, and anti–medication abortion) and thematic analysis using the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Right to Health framework.
The majority of articles (n=402) were pro–medication abortion (67%), and only 8% of articles were anti–medication abortion. Speakers quoted in the articles were 90.7% pro–medication abortion or neutral. Mifepristone was described as fulfilling the right to health by improving abortion availability (68% of articles), accessibility (87%), acceptability (34%), and quality (19%). Only 6.2% of articles discussed personal views on abortion.
Our analysis of Canadian newspaper coverage during mifepristone introduction found an exceptionally high level of support for the removal of regulatory barriers to medication abortion. It was framed as a health issue rather than one of partisan politics. In contrast, analysis of US media (2013–2016) found that abortion was covered as a political issue, and only 5.6% of articles identified barriers to abortion access (Woodruff, 2019). Our study suggests framing abortion as a health issue can be an effective media advocacy strategy to support science-informed regulation.
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