Unwed young women who attend or have attended religious schools are more likely to have abortions than their public school peers, according to a new study.
The study also found “no significant link” between abortion and personal religiosity — defined by perception of religion’s importance, frequency of prayer and other religious activities.
“This research suggests that young, unmarried women are confronted with a number of social, financial and health-related factors that can make it difficult for them to act according to religious values when deciding whether to keep or abort a pregnancy,” said the study’s author, sociologist Amy Adamczyk, an assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.
Published in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, the study followed 1,504 unmarried and never-divorced women age 26 and younger from 125 different schools. While 25 percent of women in the sample reported having an abortion, that is probably an underestimate, according to Adamczyk.
The study found that conservative Protestants were the least likely group to report having an abortion, and that women in their 20s who attended school with conservative Protestants were more likely to decide to have a child out of wedlock than teenagers.
“The values of conservative Protestant classmates seem to have an abortion limiting effect on women in their 20s, but not in their teens, presumably because the educational and economic costs of motherhood are reduced as young women grow older,” Adamczyk said.