` `

Abortion Misinformation Sparks Online Following Court Document Leak

Khadija Boufous Khadija Boufous
6th June 2022
Abortion Misinformation Sparks Online Following Court Document Leak
Discussions about abortion misinformation sparked online (Getty).

Note: The views and opinions expressed in blog/editorial posts are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the views or opinions of Misbar.

The U.S. Supreme Court has recently confirmed a leaked draft opinion that signaled it would strike down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which guaranteed the right to abortion, after Politico has published the document.                                             

The document sparked praise from anti-abortion conservatives and Republicans and condemnation from abortion rights advocates and Democrats. A Reuters’ article also added that “many court watchers blasted on the leak itself as a rare if not unprecedented occurrence.” 

Dr. Debbie McNabb, a retired gynecologist, told the Insider that Overturning Roe v. Wade would put many women’s health at risk. The doctor added that “women are going to die, no doubt about it,” mentioning that women still always have abortions in the United States, and the question would be: “will they be safe and legal?”

Misinformation, conspiracy theories, and fake news related to the debate over the U.S. abortion rights surfaced on social media. Several reports have already criticized social media platforms for spreading misleading information that confuses people about their right to access abortion and the safety of the abortion procedure.

New Study about abortion related misinformation

Following the risen discussions, Zignal Labs, which tracks topics on social media and in the news, has conducted a study shared with Global News on false and intentionally misleading information that surged. The study shows “there were 186,046 less reliable mentions of abortion online in the three days following the leak, coming from both left and right-wing accounts.”

Zignal Labs mentioned that “content from less reliable sources referencing abortion has more than doubled since Politico published the leaked draft, compared to the volume of conversation on abortion the month before the leak occurred.” 

A Global News article has pointed at some TikTok videos tagged #roevwade and #abortionban providing unfounded advice on DIY abortions at home with over 200,000 likes.

“Canadians pay attention to what’s unfolding south of the border even though Canada is in a very different position than the United States,” Kathryn Norlock, Kenneth Mark Drain Chair in Ethics, told Global News.

Several false and misleading narratives were circulated unintentionally. Meanwhile, abortion rights advocates in Canada say other inaccurate information have a clear agenda to deceive the public opinion, the article confirmed.

A spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada also told  Global that “one of the biggest barriers to abortion access in Canada is disinformation…when we get disinformation, what we are seeing is a lot of playing on emotion and not fact.”

While the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada told Global news that they are not worried about DIY abortions in Canada, Norlock noted that abortion disinformation is still a worry since “desperate people will turn to people they consider trustworthy, and try whatever they hear.”

Abortion Misinformation

Misbar has already debunked many rumors and false narratives about abortion. Following a speech by U.S. President Joe Biden on the Uvalde mass murder shooting spree, where he mentioned that guns are the leading cause of death for children, many abortion opponents have circulated a claim that guns are not the leading cause of child death and that abortion is the leading cause. Our team confirmed that the claim is false.

We also previously debunked another claim mentioning that abortion causes breast cancer. Misbar showed that “women who choose to get an abortion have no scientifically-proven risk of increasing their chances of getting breast cancer.”

Other most common pieces of misinformation were linked to abortion-causing infertility and the abortion pill. Other users have shared posts claiming that abortion increases women’s risk of mental illness, which causes suicide, which is false.

Since misinformation and false narratives circulating online use psychological drives to convince the receiver or the network user, debunking a piece of misinformation depends on logical analysis. Developing critical thinking and media literacy can prevent the spread of fake news, including abortion misinformation. Also, raising awareness of our biases and the importance of reasoning enables us to better discern between accurate and misleading narratives and reduce the negative impacts of misinformation, as we already concluded in one of our previous blogs.

Misbar’s Sources:


Global News