Abortions Higher Among Religious School Students
Conservative evangelicals are least likely to report having abortions.
A study published in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior shows that more than 25 percent of young women who went to religious schools had abortions.
"Religious school attendance is not necessarily indicative of conservative religious beliefs...
The study of 1,500 women under the age of 26 found that "unwed teens and those in their twenties who have attended religious schools are more likely to have abortions than their counterparts who went to public schools."
Conducted by Amy Adamczyk of City University of New York (left), the study theorized that young women who attend religious schools, even if they're not particularly religious, may feel more shame about becoming pregnant through sexual relations outside marriage.
Paradoxically, the study found no correlation between young women's personal religiosity – defined by their attendance at a religious institution, prayer frequency and the importance of faith in their lives – and their abortion decisions.
"Religious school attendance is not necessarily indicative of conservative religious beliefs because students attend these schools for a variety of reasons," Adamczyk said.
"These schools tend to generate high levels of commitment and strong social ties among their students and families, so abortion rates could be higher due to the potential for increased feelings of shame related to an extramarital birth."
Despite Adamczyk's finding that rates of reported abortions were higher for young women educated at private religious schools in the United States, the type of religious school was not a factor: Catholic schools had similar rates as other religious schools.
Adamcyk found that conservative evangelicals were the least likely to report having an abortion. However, in general, the researcher believed abortions were being under-reported by women in all groups within the study.Used with permission. Copyright © 2010 Christianity.ca.
Douglas Todd's blog has been cited as an "Editor's Selection" by the New York Times. He is the editor of Cascadia: The Elusive Utopia - Exploring the Spirit of the Pacific Northwest.
Originally published in The Vancouver Sun, February 4, 2010.