College Student Creative Expression of Reproductive Topics, Including Abortion

By Samantha Lowe

During my graduate studies at Morehead State I was given the opportunity to further my research and analyze student's perceptions of birth control (birth control was not defined and included all forms of contraceptives) and abortion. This further analysis was presented at the Wilma Grote Symposium for the Advancement of Women at Morehead State University.

With recent political events, such as the magnificent Global Women's March, I felt it was time to revisit this subsection of my research.  What are young Appalachians' views on women's reproductive health? And does holding a politically conservative or liberal point of view influence opinions?

Metaphors for the selected reproductive health items: “Having an abortion is like” and “Taking birth control is like” were coded for use of negative, neutral or positive language. Negative language included violent imagery, while positive language included normalizing the event. Stimuli coded by 6 independent undergraduate students was checked for agreement by inter-rater reliability statistics.

Surprisingly, holding a conservative or liberal perspective had no effect on the amount of violent imagery used to respond to our abortion stimuli. While this may seem shocking as the two parties appear as opposites on this issue; it is the regions lacking sex education programs that lead young adults to see abortions as inherently violent, rather than the medical procedure that they are. The vast majority of participants responded with “murder” to our “having an abortion is like” stimuli, taking this into consideration it is possible that for the Appalachian region the word “murder” could potentially be classified as a Frozen Metaphor (Frozen Metaphor: has been so imbedded in common language that it now viewed as literal language). Below is a table of student responses.