“Let It Be” An Examination of the Supreme Court’s Impact on Liberal Abortion Discourse in Ohio and Kentucky Newspapers

April 30, 2020   /  

Student: Robin Perry
Major: Political Science
Minor: History
Advisors: Angie Bos, Bas van Doorn

Robin PerryThis I.S. explores the impact of the Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey on liberal opinion elite rhetoric about abortion in the states of Ohio and Kentucky. The purpose of this study is to determine if there is an increase in use of public health arguments as access to abortion is restricted. The results of my quantitative analysis show that, in both states, public health arguments continue to decrease over time, and the use of rights arguments remains steady over time. Through my qualitative analysis I found the most common arguments around the proposal of the heartbeat bill were public health arguments about AFAB women who had medically necessary abortions. In conclusion, this shows that the Supreme Court has a sustained impact on the rhetoric of liberal opinion elites, since their editorial and opinion articles mirror the language used in Roe.

Robin will be online to field comments on May 8:
2-4pm EDT (PST 11am-1pm, Africa/Europe: evening)

26 thoughts on ““Let It Be” An Examination of the Supreme Court’s Impact on Liberal Abortion Discourse in Ohio and Kentucky Newspapers”

  1. Great work on such an important topic. Interest in public health is like a pendulum and swings higher during times of health emergency. Today, there is greater interest in public health due to Covid-19. Do you think that this increased interest in public health will change the rhetoric of liberal opinion elites?

    1. I think that as covid-19 is recently in the news (and has affected abortion access in some states like Ohio, Alabama, Texas, and Iowa) that rhetoric will change during the time of these bans being highly publicized. Once the news on this ends though i believe my research suggests that liberal opinion elites will return to rights arguments. Anecdotally though this is the first time I’ve seen abortion called “essential healthcare”.

  2. I’m interested in how political arguments evolve, and I appreciate your analysis. I found it very interesting. I had not thought about the abortion issue in this context before. Thanks!

  3. Robin,
    Thank you for sharing your research. You did an excellent job of conveying the history of the arguments. The rhetoric of public health is especially important as we all try to understand the changing ways that national, state, and personal rights are being defined by various interest groups right now.
    best wishes for your life beyond Wooster!

  4. Robin, your presentation is great! You did an amazing job summing up both the historical context and the data you found. I especially enjoyed your conclusion because it really implores the listener to adjust their framing of the abortion question, if they aren’t already considering the health arguments. I learned a lot from you as you conducted your research this year, and I think your presentation here perfectly captures your big points! It has made me reflect on how I think about arguments surrounding abortion, and now I will certainly pay attention to the health angle, which you aptly argue is more effective in unifying differing opinions.

    1. Thanks daphne! And thank you for listening to me rant about my topic all year!

  5. Hi Robin: So great to “see” you in the video about your very interesting IS project. It’s been a joy to advise you in this – and to have worked with you in various ways over your four years at Wooster, starting with our FYS. I love how since that course, you have stayed consistent on your dedication to gender equity and social justice; your IS continues your contributions to these important issues. I hope you’ll keep in touch and share how you continue to advocate for these important values. Wishing you all the best, Prof. Bos

    1. Thank you professor Bos. I’ve loved working with you throughout those four years (especially your FYS which inspired me both towards my major and my interest within that major). I look forward to keeping you up to date on what I do in the future! Especially as I take this year after graduating to think more about what I want to do to further my interest and advocacy for issues of gender, sex, power, and health. I look forward to contacting you when I begin applying to graduate programs after this gap year!

  6. Hi Robin,

    Could you expand more on what the “public health” arguments are? Life of the AFAB woman and child; viability of the baby? Would socio-economic reasons for seeking an abortion (not having enough money to raise a child) be a public health issue?


    1. Sure! My coding sheet, which I based on Vincent Vecera’s, codes economic equality as a rights argument. I defined economic equality arguments as the following: right to economic security/ not have a costly childbirth/ not losing work time/ cost of childcare. Some arguments do combine mental welfare of the AFAB woman and economic equality arguments though. Some would argue that if it was not done that having a child while not economically feasible would be determental to the pregnant person’s mental and even possibly physical health. In that case I would considering that a rights and public health argument. Most of the time public health arguments are not made alone but alongside rights arguments. Economic equality is one of those arguments that I often found conjoined with public health arguments. In fact in my research I found a total of 5 articles making economic equality arguments. 3 of them made that argument and combined their economic equality argument with a health and safety or mental welfare public health argument.

      1. To answer your question about what public health arguments are broadly arguing that abortion is an issue of comprehensive healthcare for those assigned female at birth and that banning it could lead to a multitude of negative health outcomes for AFAB people, depending upon their situation.

  7. Very important work Robin! Im sure you already know that though…It’s awesome to see what all that time and energy went into.

  8. Congrats Robbie!! I’m so proud of you for doing such an excellent job on your IS! I hope I was able to provide some help while working alongside you! 🙂

    1. Thanks lily! I hope your project went well too! I enjoyed our IS writing times together.

    1. Thank you, I hope I can continue to work on this issue and other issues related to gynecology and obstetrics in the future as well. I have been keeping up with the issues going on with abortion during the covid-19 pandemic. It has been especially interesting seeing the changes in rhetoric during this time. I only hope this can be resolved so AFAB people can continue to receive quality and essential healthcare.

  9. Great presentation, Robin! I’ve really enjoyed working with you over the last four years and thanks for your wonderful research assistance!

    1. Thank you professor van Doorn! I really enjoyed my time as your research assistant.

  10. Congratulations on your IS, Robin! Your presentation is really excellent, and the questions about the ways people frame these important issues are very timely. I really appreciate your sharing your research. It’s great to learn about the great work you have been doing this year!

    All my best to you for the future. I hope to see you again soon!

    Congratulations again,
    Pres. Bolton

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