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Religion Trumps Adolescent Hormones

Dateline 7/7/00

A recent study published in Family Planning Perspectives found declining support for abortion on demand among white adolescent males. This falling support for abortion among whites closed the race gap, since whites have historically been more approving of abortion than Blacks and Hispanics.

Approval of abortion on demand fell among adolescent males, from 37% in 1988 to 24% in 1995. This falling approval of abortion paralleled a falling approval of sex outside of marriage.

An increase in the reported importance of religion in their lives is being credited (or blamed, if you think declining approval of abortion is a bad thing) with the growing disapproval for abortion and non-marital sex.

The study in question only checked attitudes, and did not address the degree to which the adolescent males were living out their attitudes. However, the adolescent abortion rate has fallen along with adolescent male approval for abortion. In 1988, 25.3% of reported abortions (for a total of 346,935 abortions) were on girls under the age of 20. By 1995, that had fallen to 20.1% (for a total of 243,387 abortions). That's 103,548 fewer adolescent abortions, a drop of nearly 30%.
Source: CDC Abortion Surveillance Summaries 1995 and 1988

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Religious devotion has, in other studies, proved a powerful incentive to avoid untimely sex and, therefore, abortion. Prochoicers who are serious about reducing adolescent pregnancy and abortion would do well, therefore, to stop their efforts to sever the tie between religious devotion and chaste, life-affirming behavior. In other words, the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights would do well to give adolescents a wide berth.

And parents who are concerned about their teens would do better to take them to church or temple rather than to Planned Parenthood.

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Preventing Unintended Pregnancy

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