Attitudes about Women, Sexuality, and Abortion
Klement, Kathryn R.
Sagarin, Brad J.
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Abortion currently and throughout history, has been a wide-spread, controversial topic, though one in three women will obtain abortion services by the time they are 45 (Guttmacher Institute, 2014). Even after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s right to undergo an abortion in the famous Roe vs. Wade (1973) case, state-wide laws and restrictions continue to be placed on abortion practices (Begun & Walls, 2014). Many Americans support and/or oppose the act of having an abortion based on their personal beliefs and attitudes on how women should conduct themselves in different situations, and Wolf (1991) points out that advocates on both sides of the issue respect human life, though in different ways. According to Livingston (2007), several factors relate to abortion attitudes, including religion, gender role attitudes, and political affiliation. However, less is known about what psychological constructs may be involved in how abortion attitudes are formed. Begun and Walls (2014) explored the relationship between abortion attitudes and sexism and found that individuals who reported a greater level of anti-abortion attitudes also reported greater levels of two kinds of sexism: benevolent sexism, which casts women as pure, but fragile creatures in need of men’s protection; and hostile sexism, which casts women as manipulative harridans who are out to denigrate men. While this work is a start at examining what attitudinal factors may influence individuals’ abortion attitudes, more research is needed. The current project seeks to further investigate how these attitudes are constructed, and what role gender plays in their formation.