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“This magazine can help you abort”: 50 years of covers that shocked from the newsstand | icon | The USA Print


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“This magazine can help you get an abortion.” The cover of the latest issue nyc magazine It has been one of the most emphatic editorial responses to the news that the United States is facing a more than probable repeal of the right to abortion. Its pages carry a practical guide to clinics that perform abortions in each state, as well as advice on how to find this service if the termination of pregnancy is highly restricted or prohibited in a particular state.

The most conservative media like foxnews, have criticized that the magazine instructs readers on how to circumvent the law, and the magazine has responded that yes, that is exactly what they want to do. In addition, they are proud to publish a piece of service journalism and remember that they already published their first guide on how to access abortion in New York in 1972, a year before the Supreme Court legalized the same practice that it now seeks to ban.

The cover of the New York Magazine where you can read
The cover of New York Magazine where you can read “This magazine can help you have an abortion.”

In shocking yellow on pink, without images and with the vocation of an instruction manual, the cover has already gone on the list of magazines that define its time and that raise debates and discussions that only manage to increase its iconic character. In a world in which the paper press survives in a permanent crisis, those responsible for the medium can consider it a milestone.

We review some of the most controversial magazine covers not because of the usual elements –sex, nudity or a shocking exclusive–, but because of their political and social content.

The cover of 'Time' that wondered, in the sixties, if God had died.
The cover of ‘Time’ that wondered, in the sixties, if God had died.

Time kill god

The cover: In April 1966 the magazine Time published its first cover without photo or illustration. Just the text, “Is God Dead?”, thrown into the air in red typography on a black background at his readers.

The controversy: The question was not new. Nietzsche had affirmed it a hundred years ago, in the happy knowing, but in the sixties in the United States, where an unstoppable progressive impetus had put conservative sectors on a war footing, the issue could not go unnoticed. The text echoed a fact, that religion was losing weight in the West, where even theologians thought that God was absent. The provocative cover became the favorite subject of preachers from their pulpits, and Time received 3,500 letters of protest, the largest number in its history. The headline’s impact still lingers. Three years later, Time again he turned the controversy around with another cover –“Has God come back to life?”–, and in 2017, in the midst of Donald Trump’s presidency, with the fake news roaming freely, the format of the cover was identical to that of 1966, but the doubt was: “Has the truth died?”.

The cover of 'Rolling Stone' with the author of the Boston massacre.
The cover of ‘Rolling Stone’ with the author of the Boston massacre.

The terrorist is the star

The cover: In July 2013, three months after the Boston Marathon bombing, rolling stone published the prime suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, on its front page with the headline The Bomber (the bomber).

The controversy: The cover story tried to explain how a young resident of the United States since childhood, seemingly totally integrated into his environment, could have radicalized himself to the point of attacking his own city. The headline under the photo defined him as “a monster” but for many, especially survivors of the massacre, the photo glamorized the criminal and gave him an attractive, rebellious halo, in a magazine that, being dedicated to rock, promoted precisely that trait. In a country used to turning criminals into pop icons, from Bonnie and Clyde to the White Bugler mobster in the same city of Boston, the image was received with multiple calls to boycott rolling stone. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote a protest stating, “It is ill-conceived at best and reaffirms the terrible message that destruction brings fame to killers and their causes.” Defenders of the magazine argued that the same photo of Tsarnaev had graced the cover of New York Times without generating any complaint. Two years later, the young man was found guilty and sentenced to death, although the sentence was revoked in 2020 for life imprisonment.

The cover with the reaction of the magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' to the attack on its newsroom, where it reads
The cover with the reaction of the magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ to the attack on its newsroom, which reads “All is forgiven”.

Je suis Charlie

The cover: The French satirical weekly charlie hebdofounded in the seventies, began in 2006 to publish a series of cartoons about Mohammed and Islam, which irritated believers of this religion, who defend that God should not be represented by the human hand.

The controversy: Unfortunately, it was much more than a controversy. In 2011, terrorists set the magazine’s newsroom on fire with a Molotov cocktail, just after the publication of an issue called Sharia Hebdo. On January 7, 2015, two terrorists entered the magazine’s headquarters and opened fire on its workers. They killed 12 of them. The commotion in the world provoked an avalanche of solidarity expressed with the hashtags Je suis Charlie (I am charlie). The next issue, a week later, featured a caricature of Muhammad on the cover holding a sign of Je suis Charlie and under a headline that read: “All is forgiven.” The issue sold nearly eight million copies, up from the usual 60,000.

“Are you mother enough?” asked ‘Time’ in 2012.

the bad mothers

The cover: In May 2012 Time public a new cover for the story with a woman breastfeeding her three-year-old son. The headline launched a provocative question: “Are you mother enough?”.

The controversy: In 24 hours, the digital version of the article accumulated 18,000 comments and was subject of debate on television programs. Some parodied it and many criticized it. The image of a woman breastfeeding her was offensive, especially for an attractive mother and sexy. In addition, the article discussed attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding, advocated by bestselling author Bill Sears, with a headline suggesting that if you couldn’t—or didn’t want to—imitate the mother on the cover, it’s because you weren’t such a mother. like her. The woman in the photo (Jamie Lynne Grumet) was not named in the article, nor was the child. Later it was learned that this woman had another older son, adopted, whom she also breastfed, but Time decided not to post a picture with him. Not because of age, but because the photo of a white woman breastfeeding a black child could be even more problematic for certain sectors.

Donald Trump elected
Donald Trump, chosen “person of the year” by ‘Time’ in 2016.

Trump Person of the Year

The cover: Magazine Time chooses since 1927 a character of the year. In December 2016, it was the turn of Donald Trump, recently appointed 45th president of the United States to the stupor of half the country and almost the entire rest of the world. A few missed, by the way, that the M of Time It looks like huge horns on his head.

The controversy: Like most major American media, Time he had openly run against Trump during the tumultuous 2016 election campaign. That’s why it was so shocking that the president-elect was named person of the year. The editor of the magazine, Nancy Gibbs, remembered in his editorial that the person of the year was in terms of his influence, “for better and for worse”, and he wondered: “Which of the two is this year? The challenge that Donald Trump represents comes from the deep discrepancy that exists in the country about the response.” The list of people of the year already had a few conflicting choices, such as Hitler in 1938 either Stalin the following year, and in 1942. In 2017, after learning that several Trump-brand golf clubs were decorated with fake covers of Time with him as the protagonist, the president claimed to have refused to be “person of the year” for the second time, which Time categorically denied. The chosen ones were the women who had broken the silence with the #MeToo movement.

The first cover of 'El País Semanal' in 1976.
The first cover of ‘El País Semanal’ in 1976.

What women did in London

The cover: In October 1976, the first issue of The weekly country saw the light with an impressive cover on a subject that was only talked about in whispers in the Spain of the time. “Abort in London” was the headline, and under it it was stated that “most of the foreigners who have abortions in London are Spanish”.

The controversy: Abortion was not yet legal in Spain, so taking a trip to England or Holland was the way out for women who wanted to interrupt their pregnancy (others had no possibility of moving and tried it in much more precarious and dangerous conditions). For the first issue of it, The weekly country he sought to distinguish himself with a theme that would mark his style for years: human stories with a social theme linked to the present and, at the time, with a determined commitment to change, in the context of the Spain of the Transition. For the report, a young pregnant woman was followed who went to a clinic in London and there she found many other Spanish women in the same circumstances. The photos were by César Lucas and the text by the Italian Neliana Tersigni, who, on the 40th anniversary of that cover, she remembered that after the publication she received a barrage of letters. “Many of them still belonged to that stale Spain that resisted evolution. Some included death threats. And they criticized EL PAÍS for having aired a ‘national shame’. But there were many others. Especially written by women. They read: ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’. The first abortion law was passed in Spain in 1985.

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Mark NT
Mark NT
Mark NT was born and raised in the India. He worked at a literary development company as a publisher. He is a creative website writer for teens and a good book reviewer.


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