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AJPH Article: Librarians Efforts to Counter Misinformation About Abortion

Posted by on October 1st, 2021 Posted in: Blog

A recent paper published by the University of California San Francisco discusses how health sciences librarians can support public health experts in efforts to counter misinformation on abortion. Inaccurate and misleading information negatively impacts providers and patients, especially the most vulnerable, in accessing abortion care. The publication explores how health sciences librarians, whose mission is to share evidence-based health information with the public, have played a role in opposing misinformation and how they can be a powerful public health partner.

The paper also offers ways for public health professionals to connect with health sciences librarians, such as library conferences, through library listservs, and social media – to share information and build partnerships for information dissemination. The paper suggests considering librarians as a stakeholder group and as collaborators with the potential to raise awareness of public health issues related to abortion among students, teachers, researchers, providers, patients, and community members.

The article was published in the American Journal of Public Health where PHDL users can have direct access to the PDF.

Citation of Misinformation Article

The paper is also available via open access through Open Access Publications for the University of California.

Open Access Screen Capture


Among the article’s many points:

  • 29 states have laws proscribing the information a patient must be given or offered before having an abortion.  In 22 states, mandated information materials include
    statements not supported by scientific evidence.
  • Inaccurate information about abortion may affect patients’ ability to make informed decisions, increase anxiety about having an abortion, and affect expectations
    about coping afterward…state-mandated misinformation may influence understanding of abortion safety and risks.


In the article’s conclusion:

No medical procedure is subject to more system-level misinformation than abortion, demonstrating how reproductive politics continues to be centered on a system of dominance based on sex, gender, and race. This isa reproductive justice issue, as denying or limiting access to accurate information does not allow individuals to make reproductive decisions free of coercion or undue burden. The core professional values of health sciences librarians prioritize access to evidence-based health information for everyone, with the goal of facilitating informed health care decisions. Drawing on their training, experience, and professional values, health sciences librarians can play an important role in countering state-mandated misinformation and improving general understanding of abortion.



Jill Barr-Walker, Teresa DePiñeres, Peace Ossom-Williamson, Biftu Mengesha, Nancy F. Berglas, “Countering Misinformation About Abortion: The Role of Health Sciences Librarians”, American Journal of Public Health , no.  (): pp. e1-e4.https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2021.306471

PMID: 34529495

Image of the author ABOUT Javier Crespo

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NNLM Public Health Coordination Office University of Massachusetts Medical School 55 Lake Avenue North Worcester, MA 01655 (508) 856-7633
This has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012347 with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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