Sociological Forum

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 187–201 | Cite as

Changing Frameworks in Attitudes Toward Abortion

  • Jennifer Strickler
  • Nicholas L. Danigelis


For more than two decades, legal abortion has been the subject of heated political debate and adversarial social movement activity; however, national polls have shown little change in aggregate levels of support for abortion. This analysis examines how the determinants of abortion attitudes have changed between 1977 and 1996, using data from the General Social Surveys. While in early time periods, whites were more approving of abortion than blacks, that pattern had reversed by the late 1980s. After controlling for other factors, older people are more accepting of abortion throughout the two decades, while gender is generally unrelated to abortion views. Catholic religion weakens slightly as a predictor of abortion attitudes, while religious fundamentalism and political liberalism increase in explanatory power. The associations between attitudinal correlates and abortion approval also change over this time period. Religiosity becomes a less powerful predictor of abortion attitudes, while respondents' attitude toward sexual freedom and belief in the sanctity of human life increase in their predictive power. Support for gender inequality remains a weak but stable predictor of abortion attitudes. This pattern of results suggests that the public is influenced more by the pro-life framework of viewing abortion than by the pro-choice perspective.

abortion attitudes public opinion General Social Survey 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Strickler
    • 1
  • Nicholas L. Danigelis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of VermontBurlington

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