Analysis of Survey on Attitudes Towards Abortion in Australia
In order to understand the attitude of Australian’s towards the legality and morality of abortions, a survey was conducted and the results compared to other recent surveys that have been published. The primary survey constituted of 38% males and 62% females, of which 83% were from the age group of 15 to 20 years. 50% of the respondents were single while another 35% said that they were in a relationship. Occupation wise, 23% had finished high school, 30% had completed university level education while 38% were employed.
Given the above statistics, it is fair to say that the survey conducted among young Australians who were still studying or had recently gotten employed. The objective of the survey was to gauge what Australian youth thought about abortion, whether it should be allowed legally, when is it morally right to have an abortion done and the effect it has on a woman’s self esteem. The survey also aimed to analyze the prevalence of abortion among the youth. The survey will be compared to other surveys taken up by prominent health institutions in Australia which addressed similar issues regarding abortion.
There have been several surveys that simply asked respondent whether they thought that abortions were morally right or wrong. However, the subject of abortion is not that simple to pass judgment on. Modern day Australians are well aware of the different scenarios that can lead up to the decision to have an abortion. There are unplanned pregnancies arising from assenting relationship. There are also cases of pregnancies arising out of crimes such as rape. Then there is the question of at what point in time an abortion can be acceptable.
In the primary survey, when asked what time frame is it ethical to have an abortion done, 36% of the respondents chose at the time of conception. Another 38% thought it is morally acceptable to have an abortion done between the 2nd to 6th weeks of the pregnancy. That brings the total of 74% of the respondents agreeing that it is acceptable to have a baby terminated within the first trimester of the pregnancy.
According to the survey Australian Attitudes to Early and Late Abortion [ CITATION deC10 \p “9 – 12” \l 1033 ], 87% per cent of respondents indicated that abortion should be lawful in at least some circumstances in the first trimester; 69% indicated this for the second trimester and 48% for the third. The results of both the surveys are similar and show a clear attitude that an abortion within the first trimester of pregnancy is acceptable
The attitude tends to blur, however, when the primary survey respondents were asked whether they thought abortion was right. Only 12% strongly agreed while 27% chose to agree. Another 30% were neutral to the subject, indicating that their choice would be based on the situation that the abortion took place in. At the same time, only 13% disagreed while 18% strongly disagreed. Similarly, when asked if abortion is equivalent to murder, the response was mixed. 27% said yes while 34% said no. Another 24% said that abortion amounts to murder under certain circumstances. According to one survey of around 4000 Australians, over 80% believed abortion is a right. In the same survey, over 75% of Australians with religious views supported the right to abortion. Even among evangelical Protestants surveyed, over 50% were pro-abortion [ CITATION Kwo09 \l 1033 ]. There seems to be a disparity between the two findings. It may be that the respondents of the primary survey did not commit to a firm view to this question considering that it did not address the various scenarios that could necessitate an abortion.
When asked if abortion should continue to be legal in Australia, primary survey respondents agreed with a 69% majority over 22% who disagreed. According to a research undertaken by the Adelaide-based Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, when asked whether they supported abortion on demand, 62 per cent of respondents said “yes” [ CITATION Dav051 \l 1033 ]. The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2003, conducted by the Centre for Social Research at the ANU, found that over 80% of Australians agree with a women’s right to choose an abortion. A 2004 study looking at the views of 2,500 GPs – General Practitioners: Attitudes to Abortion also found that 84% of GPs support access to abortion services for all women [ CITATION Mar09 \l 1033 ]. The results many other surveys also reveal that majority of Australians agree that abortion is a right and should remain legal in Australia.
76% of the respondents of the primary survey revealed that they were sexually active. Of the total respondents, when asked how often they use birth control, 49% said that they were “very likely” to use birth control while another 23% said that it was “likely”. However, 6% were neutral, 9% were “unlikely” and another 13% were “very unlikely”, bring up a total of 28% who may not use birth control. 54% of the respondents had either terminated a pregnancy themselves or knew someone who had, while 42% did not. Of those who had responded in the affirmative, 23% were below the age of 15 years at the time of abortion while a staggering 66% were between 16 to 19 years of age, bringing a total of 89% of abortions taking place below the age of 19 years.
According to Women’s Health Queensland, in 2003, an estimated 84 218 induced abortions were performed, with women aged 0-19 representing 13 855 (16.5%) of this total number although Australia’s teenage fertility rate is substantially less than the United States of America (51.1 in 1998), England and Wales (26.8 in 2003) and New Zealand (25.6 in 2002) [ CITATION Wom09 \l 1033 ]. Both studies reveal that teenage pregnancy levels are far higher than acceptable level, even if they are lower than the US and UK. When asked if abortions affect a woman’s self esteem, majority (80%) of primary survey respondents agreed. Women’s Health Queensland findings verify this point of view. Teenage mothers have a higher risk of postnatal depression than older women. This is most likely due to a number of factors including a lack of support, isolation from peers and/or family, financial pressures and societal attitudes [ CITATION Wom09 \l 1033 ].
Abortion is a subject that cannot be defined as black and white but has to be to dealt with in varying shades of grey. Respondents to the primary survey were unsure when asked if abortion itself was right. Other surveys showed that people thought that abortion was right in particular situations’. On comparing the primary survey with other researches, it was found that most people agreed that terminating a pregnancy during the first trimester is acceptable. It was also found that vast majority of people though that the choice of having an abortion should be a woman’s right and that it should remain legal in Australia. However, a lot of people also agreed that abortions have a negative impact on a woman’s mental, emotional and physical health, especially in the high rate of teen pregnancies. These results show that young Australians are aware of the consequences of abortion but also acknowledge that abortion needs to be a choice taken by the mother to be.
Davies, Anne. “Australians ambivalent about abortion: survey.” 2 May 2005. The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 May 2011 <http://www.smh.com.au/news/Health/Australians-ambivalent-about-abortion-survey/2005/05/02/1114886298279.html?oneclick=true>.
de Crespigny, L., et al. “Australian Attitudes to Early and Late Abortion.” Medical Journal of Australia, Volume 193 (1) (2010): 9-12.
Kwok, Ben. InFocus – Abortion in Australia. 2009. 12 May 2011 <http://teaminfocus.com.au/abortion-in-australia/>.
Marie Stopes International Australia. Abortion should be a right not a crime. 22 April 2009. 12 May 2011 <http://www.mariestopes.org.au/news-room/media-releases/item/144-abortion-should-be-a-right-not-a-crime>.
Women’s Health Queensland Wide. Teenage Pregnancy. 3 July 2009. 12 May 2011 <http://www.womhealth.org.au/studentfactsheets/teenagepregnancy.htm>.