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A Content Analysis of the News Media Portrayal of the Planned Parenthood and Center for Medical Progress Videos Open Access

Abortion is a highly contentious political issue in the United States, yet nearly one in four women will seek abortion care by age 45 (Jones and Jerman, 2017). On July 14, 2015, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an anti-choice organization, released a video claiming that Planned Parenthood (PP) illegally procured and sold fetal tissue for profit. This video was proven to be deceptively edited and opened the floodgates for a series of events to follow. Using coding software, MaxQDA, I will perform a content analysis on a sample of 281 news articles from network news, cable news, print media and radio that cover events important to the key developments, including video releases, lawsuits, indictments, a shooting at a PP clinic, a change in the tissue reimbursement policy, and Congressional bills to eliminate funding from PP. The research will demonstrate that the media overwhelmingly used words that made ambiguous judgments or moral evaluations about the truth-value of the videos rather than using words that provided a clear and accurate judgment or moral evaluation. Further, the research will note the number of times the removal of government or state funds from PP is referenced, the number of times the 2016 Presidential election is mentioned in conjunction with the videos, and how PP and CMP are described as organizations by the media. I will compare my findings to a previous study (Dreier & Martin, 2010) about another community organization, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) during the 2008 election season, to see if the media fell into a similar reporting pattern of inaccurately describing the truth-value of the videos. This study will provide insight into media framing theory and how the media frames issues associated with women’s health.

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