‘Here’s why: low levels of trust, a low tolerance for uncertainty’
I did some research on this topic: low levels of trust in the medical professions as well as the legal profession, and a low tolerance for uncertainty. Most people know someone that has needed abortions, had an abortion and experienced what this decision and subsequent reproductive decision might mean to them. Now, polling has shown that people think Roe v Wade was wrongly decided. But it’s not just about legal or factual accuracy; it’s also about intent and feelings. I found that men are more likely to support Roe v Wade, mainly because they believe that abortion is to be treated differently depending on the rapist, the risk to the mother’s life or the fetus’s life.
People with religious affiliations are also more likely to support the law or perceived liberal stance (including opinions on the morality of abortion). People with lower levels of education (non-vocational, postgraduate degrees, and non-vocational or allied degrees) are more likely to support a reversal of Roe v Wade.
People with lower levels of wealth are also more likely to support a reversal of Roe v Wade. The trouble is that Roe v Wade is still broadly held in this country and opinion is very polarized. People are afraid to admit that they don’t want it and be labelled as “pro-abortion” or “pro-rape”, whereas research shows that most people don’t believe they’re pro-rape.
Abortion protesters rallying at a rally in California in 2011. Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images
How women are getting free abortions in America Read more
One conclusion I drew from the research was that, perhaps more than anything else, political parties need to stop spending resources campaigning on these issues. Politicians talk a lot about the “privacy of women”, and that should be how they behave and behave their constituents.
• Anna Palmer is an assistant professor of public policy and management in the College of Arts and Sciences at University of Oregon
Acha Ibasiri: ‘Where are all the passionate women joining the movement to protect the right to choose?’
The fight to keep access to abortion legal and safe in the US is an increasingly vocal one. The pro-choice groups that tend to receive the media’s attention, Planned Parenthood, Guttmacher, et al, have been fighting for decades. These women make the most sense to many Americans, and their history of combating reproductive rights has cemented their status as champions. The other groups, similar in ideology and demographic makeup, have more ambiguous or “neutral” histories on the issue.
My family is Iranian and part of the Hispanic community, and cultural demographics can work to the pro-choice side as well. Men don’t often talk about abortion, or the fact that they might be interested in experiencing it themselves. The topic is taboo even among some members of my family, and there is rarely dialogue around it. The different ethnicities tend to have a different relationship with the justice department, being non-violent pro-choice activists and generally less vocal. Women, and specifically feminists and women of color, are critical allies in fighting back against the coming “war on women”.
I witnessed this when I worked on the farm-worker movement, and I continue to see the movement become more responsive to the needs of immigrant populations than the surrounding white population. Where are all the women joining the movement to protect the right to choose? Why aren’t the pro-life groups stopping the protests in parks?
• Aba Ibasiri is a professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy