This article examines the portrayal of pregnancy and alcohol in thirty-six national network evening news broadcasts (ABC, CBS, NBC). Early coverage focused on white, middle-class women, as scientific authorities and government officials warned against drinking during pregnancy. After 1987, however, women who drank during pregnancy were depicted as members of minority groups and as a danger to society. The thematic transition began before warning labels appeared on alcoholic beverages and gained strength from official government efforts to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome. The greatest impetus for the revised discourse, however, was the eruption of a “moral panic”over crack cocaine use. By linking fetal harm to substance abuse, the panic suggested it was in the public's interest to control the behavior of pregnant women.

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