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Charting the terrain of abortion information online

Tracy Weitz/Katrina Kimport, University of California San Francisco, 2010
See also executive summary and publication in Media, Movements, and Political Change.

Project abstract

To date, there has been no comprehensive investigation of online content about abortion. Recent research on Internet usage finds that women—and particularly users between 18 and 49, women's reproductive years—regularly seek health information online, and search for information on abortion in specific. There is also evidence that health-related searches have significant impact on women's decision-making on health issues—particularly when they are experiencing a health crisis—and that web content may contribute to abortion stigma, but that users infrequently assess the accuracy of the information they receive online. Moreover, these online information searches take place largely outside of discussion with healthcare providers, resulting in important and largely unaddressed questions about the web content itself.

Analyzing data from a random sample of websites with content on abortion, this study proposes to redress that gap by making initial steps in describing the terrain of abortion information available on the web, including: (1) How prevalent is informational and/or educational material about abortion online? (2) What kinds of sites provide informational and/or educational material about abortion? (3) What protest-related claims are articulated online and at what frequency?

Findings from this study will immediately inform the work of family planning advocates and health providers, particularly in their interactions with patients, through empirical knowledge of the terrain of information and advocacy about abortion online. Concretely, this study will help providers better understand what information women have received—and are receiving—through their online searches about abortion.


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