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New Ads Counter Anti-Choice Hate Speech, Destigmatize Abortion

Nicole Knight

“For so long, folks have talked about abortion ... with shame or with euphemisms or as if there’s something wrong with it,” Erin Matson, co-director of Reproaction, said.

Public discourse around abortion rights has for too long shrouded the common medical procedure in euphemisms and shame.

That’s the message of a new ad campaign from the nascent direct action group Reproaction.

With ads in the Hill-focused news site Politico, the organization aims to counter a tide of hate speech vilifying a procedure that the Guttmacher Institute has said about one in three U.S. women undergo.

“For so long, folks have talked about abortion … with shame or with euphemisms or as if there’s something wrong with it,” Erin Matson, co-director of Reproaction, told Rewire. “We’re excited to have a campaign that is affirmative and focuses on the positive value in people’s lives.”

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Ads intended to destigmatize abortion care could roll out as soon as Thursday and are expected to run throughout the month, Matson said. Timed to coincide with the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, the digital-only ads follow a December campaign by the group that sought to hold anti-choice leaders accountable for hate speech and violence surrounding reproductive health.


Deceptive anti-choice videos released in the summer of 2015 by the front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) have fomented an increase in clinic attacks, advocates suggest.

Two months before the deadly Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting rampage, the FBI warned that there would be “an uptick in attacks on reproductive health-care facilities,” as Rewire reported.

The suspected gunman in the Colorado Springs attack, Robert Lewis Dear Jr., reportedly told authorities “no more baby parts”—an apparent reference to the widely discredited CMP videos erroneously claiming that Planned Parenthood is illegally profiting from the “sale” of fetal tissue.

“The tragic shootings and murders in Colorado Springs were not one-off, lone wolf events, but rather part of a systemic campaign of violence,” Matson said.

The ads that held anti-choice lawmakers and activists responsible for their rhetoric also appeared in Politico, along with Beltway news sites Roll Call and the Hill, generating close to 1.5 million impressions. Matson declined to say how much the ads had cost.

The ads called out anti-choice leaders like Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman. Newman decried clinic violence following the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood rampage, but as the campaign points out, Newman had equated women who have abortions to murderers, saying, “The woman is the same as a contract killer.” Another ad reprised a remark by the American Life League’s Judie Brown, who said “Violence is to be anticipated” in the wake of people seeking abortion care.

Matson said that outreach on Facebook and other social media accompanied the campaign.

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