TV portrayals of abortion overplay the risks
In an analysis of abortion portrayals on American TV over the past 12 years (2005-2016), ANSIRH researchers found that TV plots greatly exaggerate the risks associated with abortion. Inaccurate portrayals of abortion in the media can compound the high level of misperceptions and stigma that already surround abortion.
The 80 abortion plots identified feature exaggerated risks both during and after the abortion. During their abortions, TV characters frequently required intervention (13 percent of plots) and/or experienced complications (27 percent), even though the real-world complication rate is about 2 percent. In the longer term, characters who obtained abortions were far more likely to experience negative consequences, including infertility, poor mental health, and death. In reality, the mortality rate from abortion is a mere .00073 percent, and there is no evidence that women who have abortions are more likely to experience long-term harm to their mental health.
By featuring abortion infrequently and in such exaggerated ways, TV reinforces a myth often perpetuated about abortion—that it is rare and dangerous. In reality, the opposite is true.