This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

"It Did Not and Can Not Make Abortion Moral:" Framing of Abortion in Alabama University Student Newspapers




Wilson, Sara

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Communication and Journalism

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court handed down one of its most controversial decisions, Roe v. Wade. During this time, there was a rise in women’s activism, particularly when it came to reproductive rights. Defined by Tuchman, framing theory asserts that news attempts to organize everyday reality through providing meaning to events and allowing for interpretations of political, economic, and social events. As such, news coverage often involves concepts of framing. Therefore, newspapers can be analyzed to understand these concepts. Considering data from the Guttmacher Institute, the average age of those who receive an abortion are the age of the average undergraduate student. Thus, the student-run newspapers from the two largest universities in the state of Alabama, the University of Alabama and Auburn University, were chosen for analysis. Data from the Crimson White and the Auburn Plainsman was chosen from July 1, 1972, to July 31, 1973. After the data selection process, thirty-three articles and fifty-six advertisements were analyzed. Based in framing theory, a textual analysis was conducted, and the following themes were found: the morality of abortion, the politicization of abortion, and abortion as healthcare. Analysis revealed the use of generic framing through the themes of conflict, morality, human interest/personalization, and responsibility. Lastly, the analysis of advertisements resulted in the use of emotional appeals. Both the Crimson White and the Auburn Plainsman built these frames through the language used and the authors of the articles.