Catholicism and Abortion Attitudes in the American States: A Contextual Analysis

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Using data from state exit polls in 1990, we attempted to determine the manner in which Roman Catholicism affects abortion attitudes. We compared individual-level effects, in which the Church socializes individual members, with contextual effects, in which the Church affects abortion attitudes by altering the terms of the debate outside the Church's membership. Both effects were found to be statistically significant, although the contextual effects of Catholicism were negative. This suggests that the Catholic Church is rather effective in teaching antiabortion attitudes to its members, but that a strong Catholic presence in a particular state occasions countermobilization on the part of non-Catholics.


Abortion; Abortion—attitudes; Catholics; Pro-life movement; Religion; Religion and politics


American Politics | Catholic Studies | Political Science | Religion | Women's Studies


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