Thursday, August 23, 2012

Abortion and the Gender Gap Continued

By Michael New, National Review.

Ramesh is absolutely right that most opinion surveys show that men and women have fairly similar views about abortion. In fact, the evidence might be stronger than he realizes — because there are certain situations were women are actually more pro-life than men. For instance, the recent survey that the Polling Company conducted in conjunction with National Right to Life showed that women were more likely than men to support the D.C. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of gestation in the nation’s capital.

The recent study that Students for Life of America (SFLA) conducted on the views of college students also has some interesting insights. College-aged women are more likely than college-aged men to (1) oppose sex-selective abortions, (2) support regulations requiring that abortion clinics adhere to the same medical and safety standards as other outpatient surgical clinics, and (3) think that abortion providers should be required to tell pregnant women about the potential health risks of the procedure.

Finally, the General Social Survey has been asking the exact same six questions about abortion attitudes since the early 1970s. These questions include hard cases, such as whether abortion should be a legal option when the pregnancy results from a rape. They also include cases where more people would feel comfortable restricting abortion, such as where the woman is married and does not want additional children. These surveys show that on average men and women have fairly similar attitudes toward abortion. Some analyses of this data show that when certain demographic factors are held constant, women are actually slightly more pro-life than men.

The reasons for this are fairly straightforward. Women tend to be more religious and on average attend church services more often than men. There is also reason to believe that women on average have more conservative views on sexual and lifestyle issues than men. Overall, there is a large body of evidence to suggest that women have more liberal views on economic issues than on social issues. This largely explains the gender gap in politics. Of course, many mainstream media outlets ignore this. They, after all, have precious little interest in actual evidence that runs contrary to the narrative they wish to tell.

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