The Limbik Deep Dive Series: Exploring Abortion Narratives Post-Dobbs

In the lead-up to the Dobbs ruling, the decision by the Supreme Court that holds abortion is not a protected right under the Constitution, Limbik noted that abortion-related narratives seeped into seemingly unrelated topics such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and human trafficking in the United States. Although this attests to an increasingly muddled information landscape regarding abortion, Limbik analysts sought to assess the specific narratives, statements, and beliefs that form the crux of the current abortion debate in the United States. Limbik evaluated 9 high volume narratives (we did not classify them as MDM per se) to discern whether the statements were believable, whether they were likely to garner interaction online, and consequently, to what degree they had a potential for impact among U.S. adults.

The above leaderboard ranks the 9 evaluated narratives by PFI, Limbik’s predictive metric that assesses whether information - whether false or not - is likely to resonate. The Deep Dive now turns to the three abortion narratives that garnered the highest PFI of all evaluated narratives.

1.1 Narrative #1 by PFI: “Abortion should only be allowed in specific cases”

Unsurprisingly, the narrative advancing that abortion is to be confined to specific cases and/or to specific timelines elicited the highest PFI: only both those holding hardline pro-choice and anti-abortion beliefs likely disagree with this statement. The narrative is framed in such a way that individuals with a staunch pro-choice stance might disagree on the basis it sets some limits to the bodily autonomy of the pregnant woman. Meanwhile, those who seek to outlaw abortion altogether may see leaving leeway to terminate pregnancies for medical reasons or cases of sexual assault as incompatible with their often religiously-inspired, universally-imposed view on when life starts and how it should be valued against the mother’s. Its Believability score of 64 - to be interpreted as 32% of U.S. adults - indicates that almost a third of Americans hold this more pragmatic view.


Source(s): Twitter, Facebook

1.2 Narrative #2 by PFI: “Abortion is murder”

The narrative that propagates abortion is a form of murder recorded the second highest PFI and the highest Believability score at 67, indicating that more than 33% of U.S. adults believe this statement. Although a significant segment of U.S. adults, the inverse implies that two thirds of adults do not consider abortion murder, echoing why the Dobbs ruling was met with legislation protecting the right to abortion at the state level even in red states (e.g., Kansas voters upholding the right to abortion).


Source(s): Twitter, Facebook

1.3 Narrative #3 by PFI: “Religion is inherently patriarchal”

Ranking third on the Leaderboard, the “religion is inherently patriarchal” narrative elicited a 64.0 PFI. Although it is not an abortion-specific narrative, it permeates much of the debate on the ethics of legalized abortion. In essence, many artifacts from left-wing accounts argue that the patriarchal nature of organized religion led to restrictions on abortion. However, it is worth noting that the narrative critical of the religious right (“if the religious right cared about children they would pass gun control”) ranked last on the Leaderboard, mostly due to its low Virality score. This may indicate that artifacts purporting narratives grounding debate from a secular or anti-religious right worldview do not garner the same engagement as those using highly emotive, colored language which is often utilized by the religious right.


Source(s): Twitter

The specific narratives, statements, and beliefs that dominate debate on abortion in the United States due to their elevated Potential For Impact are highly polarizing; this is evidenced in the Believability scores of the latter two narratives, which are more partisan in nature, while also noting the pragmatism and more centrist view reflected in the top-ranking narrative. These blended metrics echo the mixed information landscape more broadly – one wherein, despite being driven by a minority opinion, the Dobbs ruling has now stripped women of their constitutional right to make decisions about their own lives and bodies. As disinformation research has shown, the prevalence of abortion-related MDM to become entangled with other topics (including the war in Ukraine, human trafficking, Deep State conspiracy theories, and even COVID-19 vaccines) corroborates the controversial issues-to-MDM pipeline. Moreover, with the upcoming midterm elections, abortion-related MDM will undoubtfully feature prominently in public debate. Alternative news media coverage (see below) has already alleged that a disproportionate number of women have registered to vote after the Dobbs ruling, which will likely evolve into claims of voter fraud.

Source(s): Deep State Tribunal

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