Who rejects right to abortion in cases of rape?

By Razib Khan | August 21, 2012 11:56 pm

It’s basically impossible to avoid hearing about Todd Akin right now. My Twitter and Facebook feeds are kind of swamped. But it did make me wonder: what percentage of Americans reject abortion in cases of rape and incest? The GSS has a handy variable, ABRAPE, which asks respondents about the possibility of abortion if a woman gets pregnant as a result of rape (let’s stipulate that it’s possible to get pregnant as a result of rape!). I also limited the sample to the year 2000 and later, and non-Hispanic whites (to clear out confounds). Demographic breakdowns below….

Before people start complaining, the scale below goes from 0% to 50%, NOT 0% to 100%!

 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Data Analysis
MORE ABOUT: Abortion, GSS, Todd Akin
  • Alexei Sadeski

    Those last two lines are pretty surprising!

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #1,

    http://www.publicagenda.org/charts/men-and-women-hold-similar-views-legality-abortion

    this is a robust finding for decades. how is it people don’t know? you can conjecture….

  • Dan

    One crucial detail is not disclosed in the chart: A right to abortion at what point in the pregnancy? I think an arbitrary line should be drawn, at say 6 months. A 7 or 8 month “fetus” in utero isn’t much different from a full term baby. I’m not sure I’d accept that fully “legitimate” rape would justify aborting the child in the 7th or 8th month.

    My category: non-observant Jewish. Conservative.

  • Revereche

    Not as surprising as you’d think. People who enjoy being parents can’t seem to believe anyone WOULDN’T.

  • Vincent Vizachero

    @Razib,

    I don’t think it is the similarity in the male & female responses that is surprising but rather the difference: women are 30% MORE likely to reject the right to an abortion in the case of rape than men?

    This is not something I’ve studied, so maybe this is not a revelation to the cognescenti but I find it counter-intuitive.

  • Vincent Vizachero

    Actually, I think the chart is simply inaccurate. I looked it up in GSS, and the actually numbers are 16.6% of men and 18.8% of women: still directionally curious, but more similar in magnitude.

  • http://lablemming.blogspot.com/ Lab Lemming

    And yet, despite *everyone* being below 50%, the Republican platform still contains the call for an Akin amendment to the constitution…

  • kirk

    How do they feel about legitimate Russian Roulette?

  • ben

    So more women than men… the matriarchy is oppressing women?

  • Miguel Madeira

    Usually woman are more “conservative” (in a social sense, not necesarly in the specifical meaning that “conservative” have in US politics) than men; this could explain that.

    Perhaps a GSS comparing men and women controling for religiosity (by the variable “Bible is…”)?

  • Dm

    What is surprising for me is how many questions, and answer options, were there in the GSS. It’s overwhelming for a interviewee IMVHO! Are we even sure that the responders had more than a split second to ponder their choices? Did they even have time to read the questions, as opposed to quick-scanning for keywords, like, “there is a word ‘abortion’, here we go”? Were there separate questions for consistency checking (worded or placed differently but supposed to match)? It is known that the results of surveys depend on wording and structure of the questionnaire sheets … and since we hear that the GSS is the most authoritative answer to all social questions, I would love to know what is known about its biases and bias-correction techniques.

  • wijjy

    #5 I think that these results are for the 2010 data

    #8 Easy to do

    % who reject right to abortion in case of rape

    WORD OF GOD…INSPIRED WORD…BOOK OF FABLES
    Male ……………….31 …………….15 ……………….8
    Female ………….39 ……………..16 ………………..11

    women > men in all categories.

    Incidentally the difference between sexes disappears if the question is changed to disability

    % who reject right to abortion with strong chance of serious defect

    WORD OF GOD… INSPIRED WORD … BOOK OF FABLES
    Male……………………..44………………21………………….12
    Female………………….42………………22………………. 10

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    . I looked it up in GSS, and the actually numbers are 16.6% of men and 18.8% of women:

    oh, i forgot to mention. limited to non-hispanic whites after the year 2000.

    women are not always more socially conservative. e.g., homosexuality. it isn’t that women are more pro-life, it’s that the numbers are usually close for this question. you have to drill down very deeply to get at the issue which differentiates men and women.

    What is surprising for me is how many questions, and answer options, were there in the GSS. It’s overwhelming for a interviewee IMVHO! Are we even sure that the responders had more than a split second to ponder their choices?

    they don’t ask everyone the same set i think (obvious when you can’t cross vars). also, the check on something like abortion is that gallup, etc., have been polling for decades. they get the same results (e.g., pro-life and pro-choice results for gallup and GSS seem to track well). abortion is something people have given some thought to over th eyears.

  • Clark

    It’s quite surprising that those who believe Bible is fables still have such a high rate. Are these people who are very religious but simply not Christian?

  • Lance

    It could be that they are atheist, but still believe fetuses have a right to life. I actually held that position until a few years ago, when Freakonomics opened my eyes regarding the drop in crime rate legal abortion leads to. Now I’m pro-abortion as a social good.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #15, i have a book to sell you about how enslaving low productivity humans increases overall utility! you see, the lazy don’t respond to economic incentives, but they do respond to punitive slave drivers :-)

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    Hmm, so Jews are less likely to reject a right in this case than either the non-religious or self-identified extreme liberals? I don’t know how statistically significant that result is, but that’s striking. I suspect that this comes from the fact that in general at a theological level, Judaism has generally had much less of an issue with abortion than Christianity, and most of the people in the “non-religious” or “extremely liberal” category are likely coming from at least some amount of Christian background.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #17, the jewish sample is small. but it is consistent for jews to be even more socially liberal in the GSS than those with ‘no religion.’ this comports with the finding that jews tend to vote for democrats (at least in the past 20 years) at even higher rates than those with no religion.

  • Liberal Democrat

    I don’t approve of abortion in case of rape. It’s still a child and killing a child is wrong. To save the life of the mother? Absolutely.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    19 -

    Although personally pro-choice, the rape exemption many pro-lifers make never made logical sense to me. If you believe the fetus is a human being, then it being a product of rape shouldn’t matter one bit in terms of the moral calculation.

    I’ve always wondered if those who support the rape exemption do so more because they look at a pregnancy as the natural consequences of sex, and abortion as “cheating” those natural consequences. Hence, women who were forced to engage in non-consensual sex are not responsible for their pregnancy, and thus get a special dispensation. More simply, sluts should be punished, nice girls can get off easy.

    That said, it’s more likely it’s just a morally inconsistent social norm that developed without much reflection upon why. A lot of morality in any culture is essentially arbitrary, after all.

  • amphiox

    I’m not sure I’d accept that fully “legitimate” rape would justify aborting the child in the 7th or 8th month.

    Past the 7.5 month mark or so, if a normal pregnancy with a healthy fetus and mother is to be terminated, the procedure that is used is induced birth, not abortion. Abortion at this stage is virtually only ever used for fetuses with severe problems that have little chance of survival, is quite rare, and in the case of rape so rare as to be almost completely unheard of.

  • LP

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.
    It’s wrong to rape.
    It’s wrong to kill the innocent.
    An embryo, a fetus, a neonate, a baby, and an adolescent are human beings at different stages of life.
    It’s not wrong to prevent a conception from occurring though from a rape.

  • Tom Bri

    #20 I agree with you that from a Christian viewpoint this isn’t a logical position. But it is from the libertarian. I wonder if many people just have several different, somewhat conflicting moral codes internalized, and choose which one seems right depending on the situation.
    Abortion is one of the few major social conflicts that I have changed sides on as a mature adult.
    Incest is an interesting issue, since it is often consensual. Why would anyone who considers abortion a sin make an exception for incest? The ‘gross’ factor?

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #20, there is no “christian” viewpoint necessarily on abortion. at least pro-life catholics don’t think so. they think they can (and i agree with them) make the case for being against abortion on religious neutral or secular grounds. the issue about disagreements about abortion don’t really have to do with “life” or “choice,” but basic axioms about the personhood status of the zygote/embryo/fetus.

    the problem here is the contradiction between absolutist language common in pro-life circles, and the reality that fundamentally it seems clear that most people opposed to abortion in some way don’t view a zygote the same way as they view an embryo the same way as they view a fetus the same way they view a newborn. a similar phenomenon exists among pro-choice people who say they are personally opposed to abortion because they think it is taking a life, but believe that they can’t impose their beliefs on others. the old mario cuomo position. this particular formulation seems less common now, because it was also obviously a farce, because of cuomo actually believed it was taking of a life he sure as hell would have imposed his views.

    personally, i think pro-life extremists who make equivalence between a unicellular zygote and an infant are ridiculous. but i also think pro-choice extremists who make a distinction between a late 3rd trimester fetus and a premature baby are also ridiculous.

  • Isabel

    “But it is from the libertarian. ”

    How is forcing a woman to go through a pregnancy against her will justified from a libertarian perspective? You can’t just talk about the zygote/embryo/fetus as if the woman doesn’t exist!

    “Incest is an interesting issue, since it is often consensual.”

    Often? What percent?

    “a similar phenomenon exists among pro-choice people who say they are personally opposed to abortion because they think it is taking a life, but believe that they can’t impose their beliefs on others.”

    This is a fundamentally different perspective in that it is not a range of opinions; on the contrary it recognizes that the woman in question should ultimately make the decision, not the person opining on the subject.

    “but i also think pro-choice extremists who make a distinction between a late 3rd trimester fetus and a premature baby are also ridiculous.”

    Sorry but this sounds like a strawman, who is discussing viable fetus late trimester abortions? Yet people sure as hell are discussing early zygote/embryo equivalence to “children”.

    Rape=forcing a woman to have sex
    Not allowing abortion=forcing a woman to carry a zygote to term

    I don’t see a big difference here, sorry.

  • https://plus.google.com/109962494182694679780/posts Razib Khan

    #25, don’t be so fucking patronizing if you want people to actually talk to you. you know normally i ban people for stuffing views into the mouths of others? i guess abortion brings the moron out in people, because that’s sure what i see in your comment’s knee-jerk reaction which can’t even be bothered to understand the other persons’ viewpoint before launching into a counter-attack (ie, you clearly misunderstood the previous person’s comment, and mine, but hey, that didn’t stop you from unloading some boring cliches).

    i’m disgusted. here’s to saving some neurons and closing this swamp.

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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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