With the murder of a physician who was a regular target of anti-abortion activists this past Sunday, news outlets have returned to covering the schism in our country on the abortion issue, this time focusing on a new study linking the likelihood of having an abortion to religiosity.
Unwed pregnant teens and 20-somethings who attend or have graduated from private religious schools are more likely to obtain abortions than their peers from public schools, according to research in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
“This research suggests that young, unmarried women are confronted with a number of social, financial and health-related factors that can make it difficult for them to act according to religious values when deciding whether to keep or abort a pregnancy,” said the study’s author, sociologist Amy Adamczyk of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
More from Adamczyk…
Adamczyk examined how personal religious involvement, schoolmate religious involvement and school type influenced the pregnancy decisions of a sample of 1,504 unmarried and never-divorced women age 26 and younger from 125 different schools. The women ranged in age from 14 to 26 at the time they discovered they were pregnant. Twenty-five percent of women in the sample reported having an abortion, a likely underestimate, Adamczyk said.
Results revealed no significant link between a young woman’s reported decision to have an abortion and her personal religiosity, as defined by her religious involvement, frequency of prayer and perception of religion’s importance. Adamczyk said that this may be partially explained by the evidence that personal religiosity delays the timing of first sex, thereby shortening the period of time in which religious women are sexually active outside of marriage.
Despite the absence of a link between personal religious devotionand abortion, religious affiliation did have some important influence. Adamczyk found that conservative Protestants (which includes evangelicals and fundamentalist Christians) were the least likely to report having an abortion, less likely than mainline Protestants, Catholics and women with non-Christian religious affiliations.
Regarding the impact of the religious involvement of a woman’s peers, Adamczyk found no significant influence. However, Adamczyk did find that women who attended school with conservative Protestants were more likely to decide to have an extramarital baby in their 20s than in their teenage years.
“The values of conservative Protestant classmates seem to have an abortion limiting effect on women in their 20s, but not in their teens, presumably because the educational and economic costs of motherhood are reduced as young women grow older,” Adamczyk said.
The LA Times also picked up on the story in their Health section this week. They report:
In a study published in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, a sociologist at the City University of New York analyzed the abortion decisions of unmarried teenagers and young twentysomethings. Specifically, she was looking at how those decisions were affected by personal religious devotion, schoolmates’ religious devotion and the type of school (public or religious).
Come decision-making time, religiosity — the importance attributed to religion and the involvement in it — didn’t make much difference.
Maybe that’s surprising to you, maybe not.
But of note, she writes: “Conservative Protestants appear less likely to obtain abortions than mainline Protestants, Catholics, and women of non-Christian faiths. Regardless of personal religious affiliation, having attended a school with a high proportion of conservative Protestants appears to discourage abortion as women enter their twenties. Conversely, women from private religious high schools appear
more likely to report obtaining an abortion than women from public schools.”
Read more from MSNBC.
Read more from the LA Times.