Facebook’s ban of LifeSiteNews a notoriously ultraconservative website that regularly spreads disinformation about abortion—for its COVID violations—puts into sharp relief the tolerance of misogyny and violence against women on Facebook and in our culture more broadly.
While many may have missed this decision in the midst of the controversy over Facebook’s ban of Trump, the rationale for the ban of LifeSiteNews was the spreading of “false information about COVID-19 that could contribute to physical harm,” an action that violates Facebook’s COVID-19 policies. The website was banned from YouTube in February for similar reasons.
This raises the larger question of why these media outlets have allowed the participation of a website like LifeSiteNews, which has been described by Snopes.com as “a known purveyor of misleading information.” Their belligerent anti-abortion stance has contributed to the escalating stigmatization of abortion in the US and their tactics include both the perpetuation of inaccurate and dangerous medical information about abortion as well as sensationalized and fictional stories about biotech companies trafficking in fetal body parts.
One medically dangerous falsehood that the website promoted was the idea that medication abortions can be “reversed.” Encouraging the perspective that women who have abortions feel guilty and regretful, information on the website promoted the idea that women can take progesterone after taking mifepristone in order to “reverse” their abortion. These claims are not based on science, nor has the use of progesterone in this manner been subjected to clinical trials. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has denounced the use of progesterone in this way as “unproven and unethical.”
LifeSiteNews’ history of disseminating medically inaccurate information is clear evidence of Facebook and YouTube’s willingness to accept the claims of the current anti-choice campaign against women’s health and human rights that’s masquerading as some sort of moral crusade.
Where are the Facebook and YouTube policies that protect women and people who can get pregnant from the dangerous and medically inaccurate information promoted by anti-choice crusaders who seek to prevent women from accessing the abortion care that’s necessary and essential for healthy and thriving families?
Even more importantly, what are we to do about the fact that statehouses across the country are passing legislation that’s medically inaccurate, informed by ideology and not science? Perhaps Facebook and YouTube have a hard time recognizing the misogyny of LifeSiteNews because many of the lies and disinformation they’ve perpetuated are the same lies and disinformation that are being signed into law across the country.
So far this year, 536 bills to restrict abortion access, including 146 bans, have been introduced in 46 states. Sixty-one of those restrictions have already been passed in thirteen states. This increased legislative activity highlights the escalating assault on people who can get pregnant in this country. And the increasing willingness of the broader public to accept this assault against women and their families and loved ones. While Republican controlled legislatures across the country have been attacking women with increasing confidence since 2010, the torrent of bills introduced this year is staggering and 2021 is on track to be the most hostile year on record toward women.
These laws are not just interfering with women’s access to abortion care (which would be bad enough!) but are actively harming women by shutting down clinics; using scare tactics to threaten and pressure them into not having abortions; and codifying narrow, theologically-driven ideas about when life begins. Several states are mandated to share medically-inaccurate information about abortion with patients, including inaccurate claims about links between abortion and future fertility, abortion and breast cancer, and abortion “reversal.”
One-third of women in this country will have an abortion by the time they are 45. Abortion care is part of women’s normal reproductive healthcare.
Where is the Tony Fauci of women’s health? When will Joe Biden stand up and speak out in support of women and their families and ensure access to safe and healthy access to both pregnancy care and abortion care for all pregnant people in the country?
Americans firmly support legal access to abortion in this country, including majorities of White Mainline Protestants, Black Protestants, and Catholics. When will people of good faith and good will stand up and reject the dominant narrative of abortion in this country that requires women to “justify” their abortions?
When will the mainstream press cover the fact that the majority of Christians in this country are pro-choice?
Recognizing and affirming the full humanity of women will not be complete in this country until we reject and dismantle the dangerous and damaging idea that women must provide sufficient “justification” for their moral decisions about when and whether to have children.