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Measuring Public Attitudes on Abortion: Methodological and Substantive Considerations

Elizabeth Adell Cook, Ted G. Jelen and Clyde Wilcox
Family Planning Perspectives
Vol. 25, No. 3 (May - Jun., 1993), pp. 118-121+145
Published by: Guttmacher Institute
DOI: 10.2307/2136159
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2136159
Page Count: 5
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Measuring Public Attitudes on Abortion: Methodological and Substantive Considerations
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Abstract

Data from a 1989 CBS News/New York Times survey are used to examine the effect that the framing of questions on abortion has on estimates of what proportions of the population support various legal positions. The nationwide data and results from six state polls show that general questions with only two or three options overestimate the proportions of respondents who either favor a ban on all abortion or who would allow abortion under all circumstances. Questions that pose specific circumstances result in movement of respondents out of extreme categories and into more moderate ones. Even respondents who indicate they would favor abortion in all specific circumstances and those who favor abortion in none are likely to moderate their views when asked if they support restrictions that have been proposed in a number of states.

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