Young Women Against Abortion

I’ve been analysing some more data from the Whose Body Is It Anyway? interactive activity, and I’ve come across a result that is a little… perplexing.

So a quick recap for anybody lucky enough to have missed me going on about this before. Whose Body Is It Anyway? is about abortion; it’s been completed more than 16,000 times; and during it people are asked whether they think abortion is morally justified (and in what circumstances). I’m taking it that people who have stated it is never justified or only justified where a mother’s life is at risk are broadly against abortion (though, of course, it doesn’t necessarily follow they’ll be against abortion rights).

I’ve been looking at how people under-30 have responded, particularly those who are against abortion. This is what I’ve found that I think is interesting.

1. 29.5% (2032 out of 6892) of men under-30 are against abortion. This compares to 36.6% (1392 out of 3800) of women under-30, who are against abortion.

I’ve put together a Z-test calculator, which is here, and if you plug the figures in, you’ll see that this is easily a statistically significant difference. (The Z-Score is 7.582, which is significant at p <.01).

Okay, so I thought, well, the difference is probably because proportionately more of the under-30 women are religious compared to the under-30 men. And actually that is the case. But this is where things get a little odd.

If you look at religious people under-30, you find:

2. 55% (1269 out of 2299) of religious men under-30 are against abortion. This compares to 55% (950 out of 1719) of religious women under-30, who are against abortion.

This result is not statistically significant. Plug the results in yourself, and you’ll see. (The Z-Score is 0.042, which is not significant at p <.05).

Right, now it’s important to recognise that even though the proportion against abortion is the same for men and women in the religious under-30 category, it’s still possible that it is a preponderance of religious women that explains the overall difference between the responses of under-30 men and women. (If you can’t figure out why this is the case, have a go at this Simpson’s Paradox activity, and have a ponder!).

However, this possibility can’t explain the third, and most perplexing, result.

3. 16% (763 out of 4593) of men of no religion who are under-30 are against abortion. This compares to 21% (442 out of 2081) of women of no religion under-30, who are against abortion. This difference is easily statistically significant. (The Z-Score is 4.553, which is significant at p <.01).

So why are young women of no religion more likely to be against abortion than young men of no religion?

I find that counterintuitive, but I know that other people don’t (because they’ve told me!). It’s possible that I’m missing something here because of my UK background. (Abortion is pretty much a non-issue in the UK.)

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