Why Latinas Are Targeted by Abortion Misinformation: For Journalists

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  • Confusion over which states have completely banned abortion allows misinformation to spread
  • Religion makes Latino communities ‘easy to attack’
  • The lies include that abortion could lead to issues with immigration status
  • “If you are Latino in this country, you are already afraid of the repercussions”

CHICAGO — Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, Latino communities faced a deluge of misinformation and misinformation in Spanish about abortion.

Northwestern Medicine OB-GYN Dr Melissa Simonwho is Latina, said groups targeting these communities are trying to fuel confusion and mistrust in the medical system, which means some pregnant women who are considering abortion will not seek appropriate care.

“Each time a population leaves a vulnerable position with less power, resources and knowledge – and, in this case, language – it puts that population at even greater risk of not being able to ‘get the care or access the care she feels she needs,'” said Simon, vice chair for research in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“We know reversing Roe will increase overall mortality. But Hispanic maternal mortality rates are already at an all-time high. This additional context makes this truly alarming.

Simon can speak to the media about the variety of lies she has heard from patients, such as how seeking an abortion could lead to issues with a person’s immigration status, as well as the how misinformation spreads through social media. Contact Kristin Samuelson at ksamuelson@northwestern.edu to schedule an interview.

“If you generate more misinformation, there is so much information available that it becomes difficult to determine what is true and what is not,” said Simon, who is also director of the Center for Transformation. health equity at Feinberg.

“It leads to confusion, which further fuels distrust of the medical system. If you’re confused, you’re going to err on the side of not going to the doctor because you’re worried about the repercussions. And if you are Latino in this country, you already fear the repercussions.

Confusion over national abortion laws allows misinformation to spread

“In most states right now, it’s not completely black and white whether abortion is legal or illegal,” Simon said. “Due to low health literacy, potential language barriers, and already inhibited or poor access to care, it becomes very difficult for Latinas to feel empowered to ask questions about the nuances of the decision in their state. . When you’re locked in information or confused, the assumption automatically becomes that you can’t abort, period. That’s the main concern.”

“Easy to attack”

Latino communities are “easy to attack” because of their religion, which is predominantly Catholic, Simon said.

“In general, Latinos aren’t completely against abortion,” Simon said. “We are silent on this, but we appreciate the autonomy of someone’s health and their ability to consult with their loved ones, their partner, their doctor and God. This decision is never easy to make, and therefore it is very important to have this autonomy to make the decision. Even though Latinos are overwhelmingly Catholic, in general, they still support the choice for the most part. Look at most Latin American countries. Most of the world does not completely restrict abortion, and most of the world adheres to some kind of faith.

What can be done?

“I think the media absolutely has a role to play in continuing to give accurate information,” Simon said. “The internet has a role to play in weeding out these harmful websites and social media posts that are completely unfactual. I don’t know the answer on how to do it, but it’s essential. Finding places where information is trusted, such as public libraries, is also essential. We need to be thoughtful and strategic about where this information is located and then disseminate it through social media, especially among particularly vulnerable communities.


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