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Women’s Health Experts Virtually Absent From Cable News Coverage Of Texas Abortion Bill

By Tara Culp-Ressler on July 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

"Women’s Health Experts Virtually Absent From Cable News Coverage Of Texas Abortion Bill"

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Cable news has been covering the ongoing pro-choice protests in Texas for about two weeks by now — but not everybody has been invited to participate in that conversation. A new analysis from Media Matters finds that women’s health experts are “noticeably absent” from segments discussing the implications of Texas’ proposed abortion restrictions. Instead, cable news shows have opted to feature political pundits who aren’t actually physicians or reproductive health experts:

That’s not because women’s health experts have declined to take a position on Texas’ anti-abortion bill. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — the nation’s leading group of women’s health professionals, representing thousands of OB-GYNs — recently put out a statement in opposition to the proposed restrictions in the Lone Star State. The Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health issues, has published similar public statements against harsh abortion clinic regulations on the state level.

Media Matters notes that cable news shows did feature State Sen. Dr. Donna Campbell (R-TX), State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-TX), and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. But, since those three women currently have “primary occupations” as politicians and government officials, the media watchdog organization didn’t include them as women’s health experts.

This is hardly the first time the media has underrepresented the demographics that could best speak to reproductive health issues. Last year, during debates over Obamacare’s contraceptive coverage, cable news shows called on men over women to speak about birth control by a nearly 2:1 margin. In general, the gender and ethnic diversity on most cable news networks has actually been declining over the past several years.

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