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ABORTION ACCESS:

Public opinion nationwide poll
among youth on abortion access

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Sponsored link.

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2005 Poll:

Essentially all public opinion polls are conducted among adults. However, Professor Dennis Gilbert and students from his public opinion polling class at Hamilton College conducted a "Hot Button Issues Poll" in 2005-NOV, with the help of Zogby International. They sampled the opinion of one thousand randomly selected U.S. high school seniors by phone. They asked questions related to homosexuality, including same-sex marriage, abortion access, and gun control in 2005. The margin of error is ± 3%.

The poll found that the seniors' attitudes are quite liberal in two areas.

bulletTheir support of same-sex marriage is about twice that of their parents.
bulletThey also seem to be strongly in favor of gun control.

On abortion as a personal option, they seem to be quite conservative:

bullet70% of female students said they would not consider having an abortion if they became pregnant.
bullet67% of males students said they would not encourage their partner to have an abortion if they became pregnant.

On abortion as a personal option for others, they were also quite conservative:

bullet54% felt that a pregnant student should give birth and give the baby up for adoption
bullet26% suggested that she should give birth and raise the baby.
bullet13% suggested abortion
bullet7% were unsure or gave no opinion.

On related matters:

bulletAbout 50% of female students know someone -- presumably a fellow student -- who has had an abortion
bulletAbout 36% of male students know a person who had an abortion.

When is abortion OK: The poll was far more complete than similar polls among adults. They proposed various scenarios and asked whether they supported a woman's right to choose to have an abortion:

bullet88.9% supported a woman's right to choose if the pregnancy was a serious threat to her health.
bullet80.9% if the pregnancy was the result of rape.
bullet49.2% if the woman was under 18 and unmarried.
bullet48.2% if the baby would probably have a serious birth defect.
bullet39.8% if the family was poor and could not afford another child.
bullet28.5% if the woman was married and didn't want another child.
bulletFewer than 20% of students supported the right to abortion in all six scenarios.

Support for abortion access as a function of religious belief:

bullet32% of "born again" students supported a woman's access to abortion in most or all cases.
bullet52% of "other Protestants" agreed.
bullet51% of Roman Catholics agreed.
bullet70% of adherents of other religions agreed.
bullet80% of those with no religious affiliation agreed
bullet68% of those attending religious services from 0 to 3 times a month agreed
bullet38% of those attending religious services 4 or more times a month agreed.

In contrast:

bullet62% favored retaining the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision to legalize abortion access.
bulletAbout half described themselves as "pro-choice"
bulletAbout half said that abortion should be legal in all or almost all cases (54% males; 52% females).
bulletTwo in three would require parental permission for a minor to receive an abortion.

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Interpretation:

The pollsters commented:

"National polls conducted by media organizations and university researchers reveal that about 50 percent of adults would describe themselves as “pro-choice” and more than 60 percent say they would not want to see the Roe v. Wade decision overturned. But the majority also regards abortion as morally wrong and would not concede a woman’s legal right to abortion except in extreme circumstances, such as rape or significant threat to the health of the mother. This is precisely the inconsistent, conservative leaning pattern we have found in the Class of 2006."

Both adults and high school seniors appear to agree with the pro-life movement that abortion as an immoral act, except perhaps under very unusual circumstances. Yet they simultaneously describe themselves as pro-choice

What is not know is how many of the 70% of  female students would stated that they would not personally have an abortion would follow this stance if they actually became pregnant. Some people's opposition to abortion melts under certain circumstances when they are faced with an unwanted pregnancy. For example, it is general knowledge among physicians that the vast majority of parents elect to have an abortion in the event that the fetus is found to have a serious birth defect. 

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References:

  1. "Hamilton College National Youth Polls," Hamilton College, 2006-JAN, at: http://www.hamilton.edu/ You may need software to read this PDF file. It can be obtained free from:

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Abortion > Polls > here

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Copyright © 2006  by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2006-NOV-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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