Reproductive Justice

20 de April, 2023

The illegal market for gender-related drugs as portrayed in the Brazilian news media: the case of misoprostol and women (O comércio de medicamentos de gênero na mídia impressa brasileira: misoprostol e mulheres), 2011.

This paper analyzes how the Brazilian news media covers the illegal market for misoprostol, the main drug used to induce abortion in the country. A total of 1,429 news stories were retrieved from 220 print and electronic media sources from 2004 to 2009. The analysis included 524 stories from 62 regional and national newspapers. Misoprostol was repeatedly mentioned, and this was usually approached from a criminal perspective, unlike abortion in general, which the Brazilian media routinely covers as a religious, political, and public health issue. Misoprostol is part of the illegal gender-related drug market, along with drugs for weight loss, erectile dysfunction and anabolic steroids. Sixty-four (12%) of the news stories mentioned women who aborted with misoprostol. The women’s ages ranged from 13 to 46 years old, and socioeconomic status was associated with different abortion experiences. Three characters appeared in women’s abortion stories: girlfriends (confidantes), intermediaries, and doctors. Stories of late-stage abortion are confused with the criminal characterization of infanticide and comprise the extreme cases in the media’s narrative on abortion.

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