Observations Medicine and the Media

Scans, misogyny, and miscarriage

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d7960 (Published 08 December 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7960
  1. Andrew Moscrop, clinical researcher in primary care, Department of Primary Health Care, University of Oxford
  1. andrewmoscrop{at}yahoo.com

Media pictures of late gestation fetuses provoke scaremongering over early pregnancy ultrasonography

“The needs of women who miscarry are being neglected by the NHS,” the Independent claimed in October (www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/women-who-miscarry-are-neglected-by-health-service-2368100.html). The story described the Better Miscarriage Care campaign, launched by parents who founded the “Mumsnet” website. The campaign calls for better support and information and faster access to ultrasonography for women experiencing miscarriage (www.mumsnet.com/Talk/site_stuff/1315331-Mumsnet-campaign-for-Better-Miscarriage-Care-starts-NOW-get-involved-here). The Mumsnet campaign was covered in the tabloid newspapers, the BBC online news, and on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour programme (www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015n3bc#p00l23jw).

While varying degrees of blame were directed at the NHS, the Guardian hinted at an issue of wider relevance than simply healthcare providers, referring to the suggestion by Mumsnet’s cofounder that miscarriage “needs generally to be talked about more” (www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/oct/10/mumsnet-campaign-nhs-care-miscarriage?newsfeed=true).

Just four days later, miscarriage was being talked about in the media again, but the misinformation and scaremongering over ultrasonography in early pregnancy cannot have been what the Mumsnet campaigners had in mind. “Hundreds of healthy babies aborted every year in miscarriage test errors” was the front page headline that met London commuters who …

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