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Change over time in attitudes about abortion laws relative to recent restrictions in Texas

      Abstract

      Objective

      Over the past 5 years, Texas has become a hotbed of debate on abortion rights and restrictions. Legislation in 2011 and 2013 made it more difficult for women to obtain abortions and for clinics to provide the procedure, laws which have resulted in practical obstacles and the closure of clinics. Less is known about whether that political activity has extended to public opinion on abortion in Texas, especially in the national context of increasing partisanship.

      Study design

      Data from the cross-sectional Houston Area Survey (HAS; n=4856) were used to compare attitudes about abortion at three time points: in 2010 before the major waves of legislation, in 2012 after the 2011 legislation, and in 2014 after the 2013 legislation. Logistic regressions estimated support for legal abortion over time, after adjusting for personal characteristics, views on other social issues, religiosity, political party identification and political ideology.

      Results

      At all three time points studied, slightly more than half of Houstonians supported legal abortion for any reason a woman wanted to obtain one. Compared to 2010, support was significantly higher in 2012 and 2014, whereas the decline in support between 2012 and 2014 was not statistically significant after adjusting for religiosity and politics.

      Conclusions

      This study identified increased public support for legal abortion following the Texas state legislature's restrictive laws in 2011 and 2013.

      Implications

      As the Texas legislature increasingly restricts access to abortion, residents of the state's largest and most diverse city do not hold attitudes in line with those restrictions. Clinicians may thus have more public support for their services than the divided political climate would suggest.

      Keywords

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