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Argumentative Complexity of Abortion Discourse

Michele Dillon
The Public Opinion Quarterly
Vol. 57, No. 3 (Autumn, 1993), pp. 305-314
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2749092
Page Count: 10
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Argumentative Complexity of Abortion Discourse
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Abstract

Using integrative complexity theory and its associated coding scheme, this article explores the structure of arguments on abortion articulated by single- and multi-issue "prochoice" and "pro-life" groups between July 1989 (following the Supreme Court Webster v. Reproductive Health Services opinion) and May 1991. A simple random sample of 13 paragraphsized statements representative of each organization's position was rated by two trained coders on a 7-point scale measuring conceptual differentiation and integration. The debate, as a whole, was conducted at a low level of integrative complexity. Contrary to the "rigidity of the Right" hypothesis, both prochoice and pro-life arguments were characterized by similarly low levels of integrative complexity. Supporting and ideologue hypothesis, the arguments of multi-as opposed to single-issue organizations were more integratively complex.

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