gender & abortion in public opinion

Dana Goldstein and Matthew Yglesias argue the recent debate surrounding Mike Pence’s efforts to defund Panned Parenthood highlights the importance of diversity in legislative institutions. “What [politicians] think in their heart—and especially which priorities are dear to them—actually makes quite a bit of difference,” Yglesias writes. “People with different backgrounds and life experiences are likely to have different ideas about what matters, and that can really change political outcomes.”

I was going to make a post noting women are not in fact more pro-choice in their attitudes than men, although those who are might care more about the issue than similarly pro-choice men. This certainly was true at least at one point. But then I decided to screw around in the 2008 American National Election Studies data and, according to two quick-and-easy bivariate logistic regressions, women are 8 percent more likely to agree that “[b]y law, a woman should always be able to obtain an abortion as a matter of personal choice” versus the other three choices (in short: never/only in rape and incest/in some other cases beyond rape and incest). Women are also 15 percent more likely to say the abortion issue is “very important” or “extremely important” versus the other three choices (“not at all important”/”not too important”/”somewhat important”). These results are statistically significant at the .01 and .001 levels, respectively. Although this is incredibly rudimentary analysis, I’m left a bit less convinced of my prior position to say the least.


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