Abstract Introduction: Although abortion has historically been federally legal, functional access to abortion care has been thwarted by inflammatory political discourse. Abortion misinformation and disinformation have been deliberately intertwined into political agendas and ideologies, widening the gap between the lay public’s perception of and patients’ lived experience with abortion care. The politicization of abortion care has adverse effects on its provision and training along lines of inequity and marginalization established by preexisting systems of oppression and structural violence. Critical feminist pedagogy—an examination of class, gender, and sexuality on patriarchal misrepresentations of abortion information—can guide medical students to recognize and combat abortion misinformation and disinformation. Objectives: We apply critical feminist pedagogy to abortion education in medical school curricula to equip students to recognize 1) motives underlying false abortion messaging and 2) mechanisms to produce abortion misinformation and disinformation. We propose interventions that allow medical students to leverage their professional status and privilege in improving the U.S. abortion discourse throughout their careers. Proposed Approaches: We contextualize two classifications of misinformation and disinformation utilized by the anti-abortion movement. We then discuss how educational interventions addressing both of these mechanisms can be adapted through a feminist lens to teach medical students about the complexity of pregnancy decision-making and empower them to debunk false abortion messaging. First, we explore the hijacking of false sensationalized narratives by anti-abortion efforts to frame care-seeking patients as ‘immoral’ and thereby distort our collective knowledge regarding abortion care. We posit that narrative medicine and the complexity of real patient stories can overpower this misleading imagery and allow students to integrate lived realities within their conceptualization of abortion. Second, we examine the co-opting of medical language by the anti-abortion movement to influence abortion policymaking. We propose that curricula allowing medical students to push back against abortion misinformation and disinformation can help them practice debunking false messages while also supporting the public health importance of safe abortion care. Conclusions: Medical students need to recognize and combat the plethora of false abortion messaging in our current post-Roe sociopolitical landscape. Innovations framed within a feminist pedagogy in undergraduate medical education can help trainees understand the importance of reproductive justice, pregnancy decision-making, and abortion care in the context of the patient experience. Over time, these lessons can train future physicians to engage in equitable, accurate conversations about abortion care both inside and outside the exam room.
Prakash, Jaya and Bartz, Deborah
"Combatting Abortion Misinformation and Disinformation in Medical Education,"
Feminist Pedagogy: Vol. 3:
2, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/feministpedagogy/vol3/iss2/6