Public Release: 

More religious women less likely to get an abortion

New study in Social Science Quarterly reveals discrepancy

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

New York, N.Y. - January 30, 2008 - A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly reveals that religious women are less likely to obtain abortions than secular women, not because religious women have stronger pro-life attitudes, but because religious women are more likely to lead a sexually conservative lifestyle.

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, researchers led by Amy Adamczyk, PhD, of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Jacob Felson of William Paterson University measured sexual behavior and out-of-wedlock pregnancy to religious and denominational affiliation. The study used multiple religion measures with longitudinal data to examine the influence of religion on abortion behavior.

Researchers found that religious women were less likely to obtain an abortion than secular women, in part because they are less likely to become pregnant before marriage. Among those who become pregnant before marriage, religious women are more likely than secular women to take the traditional religious path and marry the father of the child, rather than get an abortion.

Because religious women lead a sexually conservative lifestyle, they are less likely to find themselves pregnant and without a potential marriage partner, when abortion may be a particularly appealing option. Also, religious women are more likely to get married if they become pregnant.

"Religious influences on attitudes are much more powerful than religious influences on behavior," the authors note. "While religion is the main reason for differences in abortion attitudes, religion is a relatively minor reason for differences in abortion behavior."

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This study is published in the March 2008 issue of the journal Social Science Quarterly. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Amy Adamczyk, PhD, is affiliated with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York and can be reached for questions at aadamczyk@jjay.cuny.edu.

Nationally recognized as one of the top journals in the field, Social Science Quarterly publishes current research on a broad range of topics including political science, sociology, economics, history, social work, geography, international studies, and women's studies.

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.blackwellpublishing.com or http://interscience.wiley.com.

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