The contentious debate that surrounds the subject of abortion continues to be an issue that divides Americans on different ends of the political spectrum. Much of the opposition to the procedure has come from religiously-oriented people, with the most prominent group being those who consider themselves to be Christian. However, a new poll that interviewed a total of 1,038 women who had undergone an abortion found that 70 percent of them identified as being Christians. The breakdown by denomination found that 27 percent were Catholic, 26 percent Protestant, 15 percent Non-denominational and two percent either Greek, Russian or Armenian Orthodox.
Ordinarily, such poll numbers would be dismissed by those opposing abortion as biased or with specific numbers that were cherry-picked to color the overall results. However, this research was undertaken by LifeWay, a Christian research group, who had been contracted by Care Net, a pro-life group. This poll found that 43 percent of the women stated that they attended church at least once a month, while 20 percent went at least once a week. In six percent of the cases, the women attended more than once a week. The privacy that’s related to this issue is something that the women sought, since 52 percent of the women indicated that no one at their church was aware of their abortion. In addition, only seven percent of them had taken the time to discuss the issue with anyone at their place of worship.
When it came to how much influence the church ended up having on the women’s final decision, 76 percent indicated that there was none in their particular case. In offering an opinion on those specific results, a pro-life official indicated that those results were an example of how the women were aware that what they were doing was against their religion. The lack of interaction about the decision was because those individuals knew that the choice of abortion would meet with strong opposition, if not outright condemnation. Some of the poll numbers confirm at least part of the pro-life official’s comments. For example, in explaining their reasoning for avoiding or limiting discussion of their dilemma with other members of their church, 64 percent answered that they feared that the issue would be the source of gossip.
In addition, depending on whether or not they had discussed the information, 36 percent of the women had either experienced or had expected to receive what they perceived as a judgmental reaction. Meanwhile, 26 percent of them either received or feared condemnation for their action. Delving further, the poll found that just 16 percent had expected or received what they described as “caring” consideration from church members. In just 14 percent of those cases, the women said that such a reaction was the end result. The poll results were released on November 23, just four days before a gunman went into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado and killed three people. The violence of the act, coming on the day after Thanksgiving, again brought abortion to the forefront of national discussions, since officials with Planned Parenthood indicated that continued threats against the organization require added security.
Abortion became legal in the United States on January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Roe vs. Wade. Prior to that, the procedure was legal only in certain states, and in those states where it was still illegal, some women underwent abortions by individuals who had no medical training. In a number of cases, the end result was that the woman died from what was considered substandard treatment.