In modern Australia, the use of media services and digital technologies has been considerably increased and improved during the last several centuries. People may address media with different goals, including the necessity to explore their potential, contribute to their health, and discover new educational sources (Rice, Haynes, Royce, & Thompson, 2016). Nowadays, it is easy to find news and increase awareness of various subjects from social or political contexts. Abortion cases are frequent in Australia, but not much attention is paid to this issue. Only two states, Western and South Australia, officially analyze abortion data and indicate about 73,000 abortions in 2014 (Abort73, 2018). Abortion, as not only a health matter but a social and political concept that touches upon human rights and government control, has to be properly discussed in media, thus determining its impact and significance.
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Being one of the common women’s reproductive experiences, abortion causes many debates in media, politics, and society. Annual abortion services have dramatically increased since the 1970s: 1440 abortions among South Australian women in the 1970s and 5,048 cases in 2010 (Abort73, 2018). In Western Australia, numbers remain similar during the last several decades with slight deviations – 8,337 abortions in 2000 and 8,429 in 2012 (Abort73, 2018). Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women in their 20s demonstrate high rates for mental or medical reasons. Unwanted or unplanned pregnancies are usually ended by abortion when a fetus is removed before it can independently exist outside the uterus.
The major reason for the shift in numbers is the decriminalization of abortion and its reclassification from crime to health care. For example, in such Australian regions as Tasmania or Victoria, women got the right to choose if to have an abortion or not, relying on persona wants, issues, and abilities (Baird, 2017). However, in Queensland and New South Wales (NSW), abortion is still a criminal offense that can be excused if a doctor discovers a danger to the life of a pregnant woman (Doran & Hornibrook, 2016). High healthcare costs, negative attitudes towards abortions among doctors and nurses, and unstable guidelines and regulations make abortion a critical determinant of social and political media contexts.
Impact on Media
Regardless of a region, media is a combination of communication tools with the help of which information is stored and delivered to populations. There are many types of media, including print or online media (journals and newspapers), cinema, broadcasting, forums, or social media (Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In). As soon as a topic is characterized by multiple attitudes and opinions, writers and researchers start investigating a field and share as much information as possible. In Australia, Indigenous people are challenged by economic and social disadvantages in education, child safety, and criminal (Rice et al., 2016). They try to use media to stabilize their family connections, enhance their cultural identity, and promote positive educational and health outcomes (Rice et al., 2016). Abortion is one of the themes with a tremendous impact on the media. Being illegal in some parts of Australia and becoming just a healthcare issue with no criminal responsibility in other regions, abortion becomes a repeated topic. Media is a free space where people may share their opinions, observe recent changes, and learn coming interventions.
Importance of Media Use
Despite the positive intentions of media to spread information equally between all the populations, the misuse of social media is recognized. Rice et al. (2016) underline the growth of cyberbullying and cyber racism activities, as well as the impossibility of the Australian government to control the content that violates human rights. People find it necessary to use media as a weapon against abortion-related discrimination to “remove the shame and end the stigma” (Faruqi, 2017, para. 6). Another impact of abortion on media and the subsequent impact of media on people is a chance to change narratives and human minds (Cockburn, Raper, & Nguyen, 2019). The complexity of discussions around this topic lies in the obligation to follow the laws of the country and respect the decision to decriminalize or not to decriminalize abortion in different regions. One should remember that media freedoms should never determine human freedoms and rights.
Social vs. Political Contexts
The discussion of abortion in media gains several forms and is followed by various comments among the Australian population. There is no stand-alone right or law to abortion and its appropriateness for society (Sifris & Belton, 2017). At the same, it is possible to frame the right of a person to have an abortion through the prism of other rights. Sifris and Belton (2017) recommended analyzing the rights to life, health, privacy, equality, and freedom to investigate the circumstances and restrictions on abortion. For example, the intentions to decriminalize abortion in NSW were ambiguously defined. Some people considered it as a farce with no clear outcomes being achieved, many supporters recognized it as a long-expected woman’s right, and one minister explained it as the crisis of the government (Cockburn et al., 2019). Within social and political contexts, social media sentiments are gospels for politicians and food for the mind for ordinary readers.
Significance of the Issue
Many explanations why it is important to continue investigating the relationship between abortion and media can be given. The significance of the issue is not only to come to one common conclusion and attitude but to clarify what people know about abortion and how they should formulate their opinions. Media is not a standard or a guideline to be followed by Australians. It is a tool that offers options and discovers a variety of opportunities. Progress on women’s right to decide either to have a baby or not is evident in media (Faruqi, 2017). However, despite the offered political and social reforms, many Aboriginal women cannot cope with the existing barriers in health and reproductive care (Doran & Hornibrook, 2016). At this moment, the media has to pay much attention to abortion services in Australia and the conditions under which women have access to their rights.
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In total, many complex aspects of abortion-media relations exist today. Some citizens believe that women have deserved their right to terminate pregnancies not because of mental or physiological needs but because of personal demands or even without any reason. Medical workers, including doctors and nurses, must do their job and offer services without demonstrating their attitudes. The government has to introduce one common law, regardless of social statuses, geographical locations, or traditions. Until there are concerns and disagreements in the chosen areas, media aims to promote discussions, gather feedback, and share information on the topic. Although media seems to control human minds and decisions, abortion ambiguity in Australia is one of the urgent topics to set the tone in media in both political and social contexts.
Abort73. (2018). Australian abortion statistics. Web.
Baird, B. (2017). Decriminalization and women’s access to abortion in Australia. Health and Human Rights Journal, 19(1), 197-208. Web.
Cockburn, P., Raper, A., & Nguyen, K. (2019). Social media tactics being used to shape the abortion debate. ABC News. Web.
Doran, F. M., & Hornibrook, J. (2016). Barriers around access to abortion experienced by rural women in New South Wales, Australia. Rural and Remote Health, 16(1). Web.
Faruqi, M. (2017). Abortion must be decriminalised in Australia: We can’t take our reproductive rights for granted. The Guardian. Web.
Rice, E. S., Haynes, E., Royce, P., & Thompson, S. C. (2016). Social media and digital technology use among Indigenous young people in Australia: A literature review. International Journal for Equity in Health, 15(1). Web.
Sifris, R., & Belton, S. (2017). Australia: Abortion and human rights. Health and Human Rights Journal, 19(1), 209-220. Web.