The gendered component of medical misinformation

TW: misogyny, abortion, coercive restrictions on bodily autonomy

As flu season descends upon us, everyone seems to be preparing for the almost inevitable pseudo-scientific nonsense about the vaccines being a terrible trick of some sort. Lost amid those and other criticisms of scientifically groundless claims, however are a few that are not just whispered rumors, but actual state policy. For instance, five states in the US have written it into their laws that doctors are legally obligated to provide written warnings to their patients that include statements that abortion increases the risk of developing breast cancer. The fact that there’s no link between having an abortion and experiencing breast cancer is apparently irrelevant (see page 23 for details).

(Thankfully at least one image going around Facebook is trying to inform people. If only the same sort of energy went into debunking abortion laws that went into the endless online debates about vaccines. From here.)

So the next time you hear  the conversation shift towards baseless medical hearsay, be sure to at least inform the bystanders that there’s no there there. And that counts double in cases where the government is on the side of misinforming women so as to coerce their decisions about their bodies. This goes double if you live in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi, or Alaska, where these laws are already on the books.

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2 thoughts on “The gendered component of medical misinformation

  1. eric stone says:

    Is it illegal for the government to demand doctors to give patients misinformation like the false connection between abortion and breast cancer?

  2. No, various state governments stipulate what information is mandatory and by what means (written documents to be provided to patients, offered to patients, or mandatory verbal explanations, etc). Whether that information is true, however, is another issue, unfortunately.

    (To be fair, the information on the nonexistent link between breast cancer and abortion that’s provided in Minnesota is accurate, but in five others states, that’s not the case.)

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