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Melissa Lemons, Gina Magyar-Russell, Ph.D.

Religious Coping and Attitude Towards Abortion

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More than 1 million women between the ages of 15 to 44 had induced abortions in 2008 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). Almost half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended; four in 10 unintended pregnancies end in abortion (Guttmacher Institute, 2008), but public opinion is divided, often treating it as a religious issues rather than a healthcare decision. The current study examined the relationship between religious coping, age, and collectivism on attitudes toward abortion. A convenience sample of adults (52 males and 82 females; mean age 41) completed demographic questionnaires and three measures: Attitude Towards Abortion question (author unknown), the Brief RCOPE (Pargament, Smith, Koenig, & Perez, 1998), and the Individualism/Collectivism Scale (Dion & Dion, 1991). Hypothesis one predicted that positive religious coping is positively correlated with a pro-choice attitude; however analysis revealed a moderate correlation between positive religious coping and anti-choice attitudes, r(119) = .38, p < .01. The second hypothesis, that adults age 30 and over (n=97) have more pro-choice attitudes than adolescents and younger adults (n=29) was not supported, U(125) = 1377.5. Z = -.17, p >.05.  The third hypothesis tested an interaction between one’s level of collectivism, religious denomination, and attitude towards abortion, which did not reach statistical significance [F(11, 100)= 1.07, p > .05. Findings may have been limited by the single item attitude toward abortion scale. Post hoc analyses revealed a small negative correlation between a sense of coherence (Antonovsky, 1987) and individualism (r(125)= -.21, p < .05), and a small positive correlation between sense of coherence and anti-choice attitudes (r(125)= .21, p < .05). The lack of religious denominational trends may inform future research, including the use of instruments that measure attitudes toward abortion in the context of situational healthcare variables rather than presumed religious sentiments.

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