Despite framing of abortion attitudes as polarized, attitudes may be more complex.
After classifying women by their abortion identity (ie, pro-life, pro-choice, or neither/both),
we examined the complexity of their abortion attitude.
We used 2018–2019 data from a population-representative sample of Ohio women aged
18–44 to assess views on abortion based on: 1) availability, 2) acceptability, 3)
fear of imprisonment, 4) feelings toward providers, and 5) views toward federal bans.
We calculated complexity scores for the individual's degree of variation in responses
and compared across abortion identity. Respondents’ views were categorized as polarized,
mixed, or complex. We used ordered logistic regression to evaluate the association
between sociodemographic characteristics and complexity scores.
Overall, most (53%) had polarized abortion views. Among pro-life women, 46% were polarized
and 28% held complex views. In comparison, among pro-choice women, 78% were polarized
and only 2% held complex views. Among those identifying as neither/both, the plurality
(44%) had mixed views. Eight factors were associated with having higher complexity
scores: rural Appalachia residence, lower socioeconomic status, older age, being married,
having live children, not knowing someone who had an abortion, attending religious
services more regularly, and holding middle-ground political ideologies.
While most women in Ohio held polarized views on abortion, those with pro-life or
neither/both abortion identity had more complex views. These findings suggest that
Ohio policies that completely ban abortion are incongruent with public sentiment.