It is not unreasonable to expect that states with a high proportion of democrats will also have a reasonably higher number of abortions performed than those states with a high proportion of republican or conservative voters. The liberal democratic vote has always been supportive of women's right to choose for their selves how to best manage their body and their lives in a way consistent with planned-parenthood choices. Just as most conservative voters favor limiting a woman's ability to have access to abortion services; although they do not advocate complete prohibition to that service.
This essay is a brief study of the two philosophies on abortion, and the women in the communities that it affects. Who are the women receiving abortions today, and what kind of support systems they have in their lives, are important factors in understanding the abortion issues. Who are the politicians playing to with their liberal and conservative views on abortion?
There is a vast amount of research on the subject of abortion, but those works that reflect qualitative and quantitative studies, and prove useful to the politicians as well as the public for purposes of understanding the public perspective on abortion, are not as numerous as those that support the liberal or the conservative point-of-view. That is the political perspective, or what politicians understand their constituents want to know and read on the subject of abortion. There are, however, several works that present the overall public position on the subject of abortion.
One of the works that provides insight into the public position on abortion is a 1999 journal article by Barbara Norrander and Clyde Wilcox, Public Opinion and Policy Making in the States: The Case of Post Roe Abortion Policy. For purposes of this essay, this journal article will serve to inform the essay as to the nature of public opinion as it is today.
Another journal article by Kevin R. Den Dulk and J. Mitchell Pickerill (2003), "Bridging the Lawmaking Process: Organized Interests, Court-Congress Interaction, and Church-State Relations," bridges the discussion in this paper as to how the courts and lawmakers are affected by public opinion. It will serve to demonstrate the weight of public opinion in making abortion laws.
Gendered Justice," a journal article by Fred O. Smith (2005) will provide the regression data on ages and gender with respect to attitudes about abortion. This article is important to the discussion, because it will show which segment, if any, is impacting lawmakers and courts in their decisions on abortion. Smith found that attitudes towards abortion were consistent with attitudes towards homosexuality, and that the regression data was supportive of both attitudes. Smith's table is used even though it includes sexuality data, because it breaks the data down in a way that is party related, and, therefore, significant to this essay.
Smith did a study that reflects the positions of male and female judges with respect to decisions on abortion and gay rights (2087). He found that the rulings of judges, male and female, were consistent with both gay rights and abortion. His regression tables reflect the information below:
APPENDIX B: RESULT
Level" refers to jurisdictional level -- whether the legal conclusion was written by a federal or state judge. "Decyear" refers to the year the decision was rendered.
TABLE B.1: REGRESSION RESULTS, METHOD 1
TABLE B.2: REGRESSION RESULTS, METHOD 2
APPENDIX C: DOMA VOTE
TABLE C.1: LOGISTICAL REGRESSION TABLE (138)
TABLE C.2: PROBIT REGRESSION TABLE
TABLE 1: LEGAL CONCLUSION BY GENDER AND PARTY
TABLE 2: SELECTION METHOD OF JUDGES
TABLE 3: RESPONSES OF HIGHLY EDUCATED RESPONDENTS TO THE GENERAL
SOCIAL SURVEY QUESTION ON THE MORALITY OF (ABORTION)HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS (96)
Almost Always Wrong
Not Wrong at All
TABLE 4: POLITICAL OPINIONS OF INCOMING 1LS IN THE CLASS OF 2000
Affirmative Action for Women
Smith's study shows that based on specific court cases shows that highly educated women judges share the same ideas on abortion as the public majority (2087). Smith's study shows that women judges, like male judges, tend to be consistent on issues of abortion, and that both groups are influenced by public opinion. We see, then, that there is a strong public opinion correlation, and we can turn to Barbara Norrander and Clyde Wilcox study that helps to put into perspective the public opinon.
Norrander and Wilcox concluded that a "plurality" of Americans favor abortion by individual case elements (707). In other words, if there were a case of medical complication that would result in the death of the mother, the general public might be divided along the lines of the abortion debate in ways that they are not divided on the general topic of abortion. When the element of health risk to the mother exists, it could results in the data to change from those results reported generally.
Their study also provided data to support that the individual state's position on abortion was consistent with that of their constituents, and that the hypothesis put forth for this essay is accurate (See Norrander and Wilcox regression table below). Dulk and Pickerill support this conclusion, saying:
This brings us to our final observation. Organized groups act as an informational bridge between the courts and Congress, but their influence can be overstated. To suggest that U.S. lawmaking is an inter-institutional process is to acknowledge its multidimensional nature, with many different political actors engaged at multiple access points. While groups might provide information to members of Congress, those members must be responsive in light of a host of other factors: the "electoral connection," the desire to make good public policy, party leadership, and pressure from other constituencies. (54) The courts also look to other sources of information and influence, including the ideologies and strategic expectations of judges themselves. (55) Yet by providing an informational bridge between institutions, groups play an integral role in this broader process (419)."
Because the laws enforced and upheld by the courts are consistent with those enacted by lawmakers, who in turn are acting on behalf of their constituents, the data provided here and the conclusions are not completely unexpected. The continuing debate over Roe v Wade, the original law governing women's access to abortion, has been met with an "end run" of sorts. In other words, what is known as the "moral majority" is finding ways through the court to circumvent the full force of the law in favor of more restrictive abortion laws state by state.
State-Level Public Opinion on Abortion [a]
States All Cases Government Funding Parental Consent
32.1-25.0 183 116-176
Notes: (a.)Percentage of respondents favoring abortions in all cases, strongly favoring government funding of abortions for the poor, and strongly opposing consent requirements for minors seeking abortions, 1988 to 1992.
A b.)Range of numbers of respondents per state. The government funding and parental consent questions were asked only in 1990 and 1992.
Source: Miller, Kinder, Rosenstone, & the National Election Studies (1993).
State Policies on Abortion
Regulation of abortion for minors
Written consent of parent(s) states 1 state
Written consent or judicial bypass
12 states 9 states
Parental notification states 3 states
Parental notification or bypass states 4 states
Counseling of minor states 0 states
Government funding of abortions
Only to save woman's life
For some other exceptions states
For most abortions
Spousal notification or consent
Spousal consent states
Spousal notification states
Required waiting periods and counseilng
Waiting periods of 24-48 hours
Ban on most or all postviabliity abortions
Current or future bans on abortion
Current (unconstitutional) bans states
Law promising bans when legal states
Law promising fullest regulation states
Pro-Choice legislation banning clinic harassment or promising to keep abortions legal
Pro-Choice legislation states
Source: National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (1992).
Competing Models Explaining Liberal
State Policies on Abortion (n = 50)
No Parental Consent Law…