In this issue, we report on the science of pregnancy biology and how it has been misunderstood or misapplied in policies and laws regulating abortion. We posted the article on our website on June 24, the day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the right to an abortion is not protected by the Constitution.
Covering one of the most consequential and controversial rulings in the court’s history may seem off topic for a science magazine. But Science News has covered politically and ethically contentious issues since our founding in 1921. Our founders, zoologist William E. Ritter and newspaper magnate E.W. Scripps, thought it essential that Americans have accurate information about science so that they can understand the world around them and be informed citizens.
We have stayed true to that mission over the decades, reporting on science to inform public debate on a wide range of issues including abortion, racism, nuclear weapons and nuclear power, HIV/AIDS, poverty, pollution, gun violence and climate change. We have also explained where science has been manipulated or misapplied in the service of political agendas. And we have covered the rise of antiscience misinformation and disinformation on subjects including climate change, vaccines and the pandemic (SN: 5/8/21 & 5/22/21, p. 22).
Looking specifically at abortion, Science News has covered the subject consistently, including a 1937 study in JAMA that found abortion to be common among married women in New York City who use birth control, with 1 in 8 such women saying they had had at least one induced abortion (SN: 5/29/37, p. 349). We have also covered advances in understanding the basic biology of human reproduction, and research on public health and the social impacts of access to abortion and birth control. We will continue to cover these issues as the United States enters a new era of restrictions or bans on abortion and perhaps contraception.
With science increasingly under threat, we believe even more strongly in the importance of our founding mission and will continue to provide accurate coverage of science and its role in society.