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One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, yet in pop culture accurate portrayals of real people s stories are rare. In this show we hear about representations of abortion and reproductive decision-making in popular culture, and why those stories really matter.
Segment 1: In this special interview, two reproductive justice advocates listen and discuss two songs: Nick Cannon’s ‘Can I Live?’ and Nicki Minaj’s ‘Autobiography’, and ask: what messages are pop songs sending about reproductive health issues?
Segment 2: Making Contact media intern Luna Olavarria Gallegos and Ratema Uch – a youth activist at Forward Together – chat about the use of new stories and online tv shows that are shifting the way we talk about abortion.
Segment 3: A Q&A with Gretchen Sisson, Research Sociologist at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH). Gretchen discusses current research on abortion in media and how stories are often inaccurate and not necessarily true to people’s experience.
- Samara Azam-Yu, Executive Director at ACCESS Women s Health Justice
- Alicia Walters, Movement Building Director at Forward Together
- Ratema Uch, youth activist at Forward Together
- Gretchen Sisson, sociologist at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California San Francisco.
The first segment on songs is part of a joint reporting project on reproductive rights in pop culture that includes Bitch Media, Feministing, and Making Contact. This work is part of a Media Consortium collaboration made possible in part by a grant from the Voqal Fund. The other segments were made possible in part by The Mary Wohlford Foundation. If you like these kinds of stories please make a donation here.
Host, Producer: Jasmin Lopez
Editor: George Lavender
Production Intern: Luna Olavarria Gallegos
Other stories in this project
The Dramatic History of American Sex-Ed Films –Bitch Magazine
Since that 1948 screening, private companies, political organizations, individuals, and government agencies have made thousands of sex-ed films and videos targeting elementary, middle school, and high school students. Sex education is arguably more closely tied to film than any other subject in public school. Whether students recall sex-ed class VHS tapes, filmstrips, or YouTube clips as being painfully corny discussions of dating or sincerely educational forays into the sticky bits of our biology, sex-ed films color our understanding of sexuality. Read more.
The ways that pop culture has reinforced abortion stigma extend beyond just the visibility—or lack thereof—of the choice. A recent census by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco—the first comprehensive, quantitative look at abortion storylines in TV and film—tallied over 300 plot lines in which a character considered an abortion between 1916 and 2013, including 87 on primetime network television. Given how common the procedure is in real life—not to mention how frequently totally uncommon things happen in Hollywood—that’s a small number, but it’s not nothing. Read more.
- ACCESS Women’s Health Justice
- Forward Together
- Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH)
- The Dramatic History of American Sex-Ed Films
- Stories begetting stories: How pop culture reinforces abortion stigma—and can help end it