Abortion rights advocates in Colorado are helping members of the media and the public to chose their words wisely – and avoid misleading and inaccurate language – when talking about abortion, contraception, and reproductive health.
The reproductive rights advocacy organization Cobalt released a “Reproductive Rights Glossary” last week that helps explain reproductive rights basics, from breaking down medical jargon to providing context for health care policy to busting right-wing propaganda.
“Now more than ever, it’s important to use scientific and medically accurate terms around abortion care, contraception, and reproductive rights,” said Cobalt President Karen Middleton. “Abortion opponents have and continue to make up misleading words and phrases to attack reproductive rights. Inflammatory language and propaganda terms only serve to further stigmatize patients and providers and put reproductive health care further out of reach.”
For example, some media outlets referred to Proposition 115, a 2020 measure that sought to ban abortions after 22 weeks in Colorado, as a ban on “late-term” abortion. As Cobalt points out, that’s a medically inaccurate term used by anti-abortion activists, not doctors.
Anti-abortion messaging and policy are often predicated on medical misinformation and propaganda. For example, as the glossary explains, a medically risky and unscientific “abortion reversal” method is often promoted by anti-abortion activists and lawmakers. In fact, Colorado Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn pushed a bill earlier this year that would require doctors to inform abortion patients about this alleged reversal treatment, which researchers had to stop studying due to health concerns for study subjects.
The glossary may also help clear up confusion around abortion pills. Abortion opponents sometimes refer to emergency contraceptives like Plan B as an “abortion pill,” likely in an attempt to promote the falsehood that emergency contraceptives induce abortion. In reality, emergency contraceptives prevent pregnancy primarily by delaying ovulation.
But abortion pills do, in fact, exist, and are a popular and safe method for ending earlier pregnancies. There’s no single abortion pill, rather two pills–mifepristone and misoprostol–taken in succession. Various abortion methods are included in the glossary.
It also explains terms like “reproductive justice,” which it describes as “an organizing framework developed by women of color that looks at intersecting areas of oppression,” and “access to abortion,” which it defines as “a phrase referring a pregnant person’s actual ability to receive an abortion.”
“We hope that the media, policymakers, and the public will find the Reproductive Rights Glossary a useful guide to better understand contraception, abortion, and reproductive health care,” concluded Cobalt Political Director Selina Najar.