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The Abortion Puzzle

In the last 40 or so years, Americans’ attitudes on many social issues – especially on issues having to do with gender and sexuality – became markedly more libertarian. Americans increasingly supported women’s rights, women working, and women seeking positions of authority, including running for president. Americans also became notably more laissez-faire on most sexual issues — premarital sex, living together out of marriage, and even homosexuality. (Interestingly, Americans became less tolerant of extramarital sex.) On religion, too, Americans accepted more individual choice.

U. of Az. Wildcat

Yet Americans’ views on abortion, an issue that blends gender, sexuality, and religion seem to have changed little since the 1970s.

Two recent essays in Contemporary Sociology suggest that the context of the abortion debate has shifted. It is now much less about the role of women and more about something else.

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