Abortion is an Information Issue

Hope E Reilly


In the years following the 1992 Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, abortion has been subjected to a wide range of legal restrictions, and the impact of these restrictions has not been adequately studied. While this process of increasingly restrictive regulation may be considered a public health issue, the natures of these laws also make them relevant to information studies. Biased counseling laws mandate that an abortion provider disseminate information specifically designed to discourage a woman from obtaining an abortion. This paper examines the impact of these laws on both the abortion patient and provider. Biased counseling information has a demonstrable effect on the health information access of abortion patients and on the intellectual freedom of abortion providers. However, there are also chilling effects on the intellectual freedom of the abortion patients themselves. This paper establishes abortion as an information issue and calls for future study into its effects on information access and intellectual freedom.



abortion, information access, intellectual freedom, biased counseling laws, reproductive health


Access. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/access

Adler, J. (2015, November 12). Missouri state senator seeks to block University of Missouri student’s dissertation on abortion regulations. Washington Post, Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/11/12/missouri-state-senator-seeks-to-block-university-of-missouri-students-dissertation-on-abortion-regulations/

Advancing New Studies in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH). (2014 December). Safety of Abortion in the United States. Issue Brief #6. Retrieved from http://www.ansirh.org/sites/default/files/publications/files/safetybrief12-14.pdf

American Library Association. (n.d.). Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A. Retrieved November 15, 2015, from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/censorshipfirstamendmentissues/ifcensorshipqanda

Bever, L. (2016, January 16). Why ultrasounds are intensifying North Carolina’s abortion fight. Washington Post, Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/01/16/why-ultrasounds-are-intensifying-north-carolinas-abortion-fight/

Biggs, M. A., Rowland, B., & Foster, D. G. (2015). Does abortion increase women's risk for posttraumatic stress disorder? Contraception, 92(4), 359.

Burnett, G., Jaeger, P. T., & Thompson, K. M. (2008). Normative behavior and information: The social aspects of information access. Library & Information Science Research, 30(1), 56–66.

Cockrill, K., & Weitz, T. (2010). Abortion patients’ perception of abortion regulation. Women’s Health Issues, 20(1), 12–19.

Dahlberg, L., Ikeda, R., & Kresnow, M. (2004). Guns in the home and risk of a violent death in the home: Findings from a national study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 160(10), 929–936.

De Bord, J. (2014, March 7). Informed Consent. Seattle: University of Washington School of Medicine. Retrieved from https://depts.washington.edu/bioethx/topics/consent.html

Department of Professional Employees: AFL-CIO. (2016). Library Workers: Facts and Figures. Retrieved from http://dpeaflcio.org/programs-publications/issue-fact-sheets/library-workers-facts-figures/

Dodge, L., Haider, S., & Hacker, M. (2012). Knowledge of state-level abortion laws and policies among front-line staff at facilities providing abortion services. Women’s Health Issues 22(5), 415–420.

Dresser, R. (2008). From double standard to double bind: Informed choice in abortion. George Washington University Law Review, 76(6) 1599–1622.

Duhon, L., & Jameson, J. (2013). Health information outreach: A survey of U.S. academic libraries, highlighting a Midwestern university's experience. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 30(2), 121–137.

Fausset, R. (2016, January 10). Law on ultrasounds reignites abortion battle in North Carolina. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/11/us/law-on-ultrasounds-reignites-abortion-battle-in-north-carolina.html

Filipovic, J. (2014, July 8). How Texas created a culture of shame. Cosmopolitan. Retrieved from http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/news/a28327/abortion-stigma-texas/

Frankel, T. (2015). Why the CDC still isn’t researching gun violence, despite the ban being lifted two years ago. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2015/01/14/why-the-cdc-still-isnt-researching-gun-violence-despite-the-ban-being-lifted-two-years-ago/

Gold, R. B., & Nash, E. (2013). TRAP laws gain political traction while abortion clinics—and the women they serve—pay the price. Guttmacher Policy Review, 16(2), Retrieved from https://www.guttmacher.org/about/gpr/2013/06/trap-laws-gain-political-traction-while-abortion-clinics-and-women-they-serve-pay

Guttmacher Institute. (2015a, September 1). State policies in brief: An overview of abortion laws. Retrieved September 23, 2015 from http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_OAL.pdf

Guttmacher Institute. (2015b, September 1). State policies in brief: Counseling and waiting periods for abortion. Retrieved September 23, 2015 from http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_MWPA.pdf

Guttmacher Institute. (n.d.). State policies in brief: Targeted regulation of abortion providers. Retrieved October 30, 2016 from https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/targeted-regulation-abortion-providers

Healy, J., & Eckholm, E. (2015, November 28). Siege highlights security used in abortion clinics. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/us/siege-highlights-security-used-in-abortion-clinics.html?_r=0

Khazan, O. (2015, July 16). Planning the end of abortion. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/07/what-pro-life-activists-really-want/398297/

Kim, C. (2014, February 26). Virginia Republican labels pregnant women as “hosts.” MSNBC, Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/state-sen-calls-pregnant-women-hosts

Kim, H., & Zhang, Y. (2015) Health information seeking of low socioeconomic status Hispanic adults using smartphones. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 67(5), 542–561

Kimport, K. (2012). (Mis)Understanding abortion regret. Symbolic Interaction, 35(2), 105–122.

Kimport, K., Preskill, F., Cockrill, K., & Weitz, T. (2012). Women's perspectives on ultrasound viewing in the abortion care context. Women's Health Issues, 22(6), 513–517.

Kimport, K., Upadhyay, U., Foster, D., Gatter, M., & Weitz, T. (2013). Patient viewing of the ultrasound image prior to abortion. Contraception, 88(5), 666–670.

Liptak, A. (2016, June 27). Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion restrictions. The New York Times, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/28/us/supreme-court-texas-abortion.html

Louisiana State University. (2009, April 19). Battery—No Consent. Retrieved from http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/map/BatteryNoConsent.html

Mathiesen, K. (2014). Facets of access: A conceptual and standard threats analysis. iConference 2014 Proceedings, p. 605–611, Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2142/47410

Medical privacy concerning firearms; prohibitions; penalties; exceptions. Florida Statute § 790.338 (2011).

Medoff, M. (2009). Biased abortion counseling laws and abortion demand. The Social Science Journal, 46, 632–643.

Mehta, S. (July 28, 2016). Roe vs. Wade will be overturned if Donald Trump wins, Mike Pence says. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/trailguide/la-na-democratic-convention-2016-live-pence-says-roe-v-wade-will-be-1469737388-htmlstory.html

Mercier, R., Buchbinder, M., Bryant, A., & Britton, L. (2015). The experiences and adaptations of abortion providers practicing under a new TRAP law: A qualitative study. Contraception (91), 507–512.

Moore, A., Frohwirth, L., & Blades, N. (2011). What women want from abortion counseling in the United States: A qualitative study of abortion patients in 2008. Social Work in Health Care, 50(6), 424–442.

Moore, L. (2012, August 20). Rep. Todd Akin: The statement and the reaction. The New York Times, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/us/politics/rep-todd-akin-legitimate-rape-statement-and-reaction.html

Padilla, S. (2015, November 29). Abortion violence's deadly toll spans clinics, kitchen, and church. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-abortion-violence-20151129-htmlstory.html

Perrucci, A. (2014, September). Clinical guidelines on ultrasound viewing. Oakland, CA: ANSIRH. Retrieved from https://www.ansirh.org/sites/default/files/publications/files/ultrasound_guidelines9-14.pdf

Quealy, K., & Sanger-Katz, M. (2016, June 13). Compare these gun death rates: The U.S. is in a different world. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/14/upshot/compare-these-gun-death-rates-the-us-is-in-a-different-world.html?_r=0

Rathmore, M. (2014). Physician “gag laws” and gun safety. American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, 16(4). 284–288.

Richardson, A., Allen, J. A., Xiao, H., & Vallone, D. (2012). Effects of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status on health information-seeking, confidence, and trust. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 23(4), 1477–1493.

Shepherd, K., & Rappaport, A. (2016, July 15). How Mike Pence and Donald Trump compare on the issues. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/16/us/politics/mike-pence-issues.html

Turkewitz, J. (2015, November 28). In Colorado, bustling with shoppers, then gripped by chaos. The New York Times, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/us/colorado-springs-planned-parenthood-shooting.html

U.N. General Assembly. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Resolution 217 A (III). Retrieved from http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3712c.html

Vandewalker, I. (2012). Abortion and informed consent: How biased counseling laws mandate violations of medical ethics. Michigan Journal of Gender and Law, 19(1) 1–70.

Whitney, S., & McCullough, L. (2007). Physicians' silent decisions: Because patient autonomy does not always come first. The American Journal of Bioethics, 7(7), 33–38.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

ISSN 2574-3430

IJIDI logo created by Craig Taylor.