Religiosity, Political Orientation and Attitudes toward Abortion among University Students in Canada

Leandra Pilon , Nipissing University
Amir Erfani, Nipissing University

Background: The current political climate in Canada has brought about the debate over the morality of terminating a pregnancy via medical abortion. Religiosity and political orientation lie at the heart of this debate. Objective: This research aims to identify the role of religiosity and political orientation in attitudes toward abortion practices. Methods: An online survey questionnaire was developed and conducted among university students at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario during January-April 2019. A total of 66 students completed the survey questionnaire. Multivariate linear regression and path Analyses were used. Results: Most participants (66-73%) strongly supported abortion under primarily medically related circumstances, and were less likely to agree with circumstances attributed to social circumstances. The majority (83%) agreed with aborting a pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. Path analysis showed that religiosity (measured by religious beliefs and participation) largely affected attitudes towards abortion directly rather than indirectly through political orientation, with a greater effect induced from religious participation than beliefs. Students with more liberal political orientations held more positive attitudes toward abortion. Mothers’ religious affiliation affected students’ religious beliefs more than that of their fathers’. Multivariate results showed that the greater conservative political orientation and religious participation were associated with more negative attitudes to abortion, and higher income was linked with more positive attitudes to abortion. Conclusion: The results shed more light on the link between religiosity, political orientation and abortion in a relatively secular country, with implications for the future of public policy on abortion in Canada.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course