Posted on December 17, 2015

Study: Abortion Patients on TV Are Overwhelmingly Young, Wealthy and White

Anna Merlan, Jezebel, December 17, 2015


The study was authored by the University of California-San Francisco’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health and published in the journal Contraception; we saw it via Media Matters. The authors looked at television characters seeking abortions between 2005 and 2014, and found about what you’d expect:

Comparing all abortion-considering characters to the subset of abortion-obtaining characters, the higher rates of abortion were found for characters who were white, of lower socioeconomic status, and not in committed relationships. Compared to statistics on real women, characters who obtained abortions were disproportionately white, young, wealthy, and not parenting. Compared to reports on real women’s reasons for abortion, immaturity or interference with future opportunities were overrepresented; financial hardship or pregnancy mistiming were underrepresented.

In other words, some of the most common reasons real people choose to abort, including financial hardship or needing to care for existing children, are sorely underrepresented. The racial demographics were incredibly skewed: while 36.1 one percent of American abortion patients are white in real life, on TV they accounted for a full 87 percent. Black and Latina women make up 3o percent and 25 percent, respectively, of real-life abortion patients; on TV, they were five percent and zero.