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Gender and Position on Abortion

By November 9, 2007

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The most heated discussions on the About.com Women's Issues Forum revolve around abortion. A few participate in the debate, but many read the messages and follow the passionate arguments put forth by the pro-choice and pro-life forum members. Interestingly, there's a female/male split in the debate, with women consistently representing one view and men vehemently taking the other side.

An analysis of surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2004 indicates that "33% of women say they strongly oppose more restrictions on abortion, compared with 26% of men." Is this a debate rooted in gender? Or are there a range of opinions and positions held by both women and men?

The following poll may shed some light on whether or not gender plays a role in an individual's support of - or opposition to - abortion.

A couple of clarifications: As used below, 'exceptions' would be situations such as rape, incest, and/or only if the mother's life is in danger; 'restrictions' would refer to specific time frames for abortion or methods of abortion. (All would be within the current existing guidelines for legal abortion in the United States.)

What's your gender and position on abortion?


November 14, 2007 at 1:34 am
(1) Mary MacElveen says:

For as many years as I can remember, I have been pro-choice. It was not until recently that I switched my opinion on abortion to pro-life. This has been met with scorn by the pro-choice supporters and I still feel that everyone in this country is allowed an opinion on this topic. Should you wish to read my columns on this subject, please Google search: Abortion: Who will speak out for the little ones. Also, The survivors of abortion. Please Google my name along with those subject titles so you will read the correct two pieces.

Mary MacElveen

January 16, 2008 at 2:43 am


July 1, 2008 at 6:06 pm
(3) Shauna says:

I think this survey would be better if you included the life of the mother as a separate exception than rape or incest. Most, if not all, strongly pro-life people recognize that abortion is sometimes a necessary procedure to save the life of the mother. I am a woman and a strong feminist, but I am also strongly pro-life. I think feminism does not preclude the belief that humanity begins at conception. As women, we should be united against those that abuse and manipulate women, but we also should recognize that women, alone, can be mothers, and that we have a duty to protect any child that is already within the womb. Yes, many relationships are complicated and many pregnancies are unintended, but why should we rest with the social status quo? I think it is a disservice to other women if we do not fight for a society that accepts the fertility of women, that is not so centered around catering to men’s sexual wants, and that gives women the real support they need to be mothers and to pursue a career. Every woman should have the right to chose whether or not to be a mother, but that decision must come before the child is conceived, not afterwards.

December 20, 2008 at 1:07 am
(4) Dave says:


you have NOOOOOOOOO RIGHT to tell others what to do

January 3, 2009 at 1:42 pm
(5) renn says:

For the longest time I was against abortion. It was black and white to me…
Then, when I was 17 I found out I was pregnant. I had no idea. It was a great shock! My Mom had passed away a little over a year ago, and I was living on my own. Partying all the time. I’d been dating one guy for 2 years.
The last thing I expected the Dr to say was you’re pregnant, what are you going to do. I was shell shocked. My first instinct was I’d have my baby. And the Dr. said I should consider an abortion, but if I did, I only had about a week to decide…
So I went home in a daze. I was so scared to tell my boyfriend…and when I told him he was so cold…told me to get rid of it. I felt like I was all alone, and started thinking maybe it would be better to have an abortion.So I prayed, and prayed, and begged God to forgive me, and I cried an ocean of tears. I was so scared. I started hearing all these stories about fanatics blowing up clinincs, and waiting for women to come out after having an abortion and getting shot! It was scary. But tried to make an appt. in town, but they said I was too far along at 10.5 weeks. So I had to go out of town.I had to find a ride….
I went to the appointment, spoke with the counselor, weighed my options.There was no pressure. These clinics don’t just offer abortion services, but opposite services as well. The counslor was going to give me some papers on where to call for adoption options.
But I ultimately did what felt in my heart was the right decision. I had the abortion. Sure I’ve felt regret, but mostly relief.
I am grateful that as women it’s our right to choose! And I’ll wager some of the Pro-Lifers would change their tune if ever they stood in my shoes that April fools day when I was 17…

March 31, 2009 at 10:39 pm
(6) Jessica says:

Why should others be able to tell us women what we should or shouldn’t do with our own bodies? No one else is involved in our decision. So, the consequences are ours alone to bear, therefore the choice should be left up to us!

April 2, 2009 at 1:18 am
(7) Zac says:

Renn. you’re dumb.

April 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm
(8) Samira says:

Jessica I disagree with your statement. Even though we are women have the right to choose does not mean we punish an unborn baby for it!!! If a women is pregnant and she does not want to mother her baby I think it best she adopt!!! What gives women or people in general the right to MURDER ANOTHER HUMAN BEING? I have always been pro-life but I do understand other womens points of view when its c omes to circumstances that involves incest or rape. Renn that is a deep story and I see why you felt it necessary to abort in that situation it was extremely tough!!!!! Personally if I were pregnant and I could not care for the baby during the time I would perfer contacting adoption agencies so the baby will have a family where it is loved and cared for. “Whats the less of the greater evils ABORTIONS OR ABUSE” I say neither since Abortions=murder & Abusre=torture. i would go with ADOPTION it stands up for pro-life and will acts as a catalyst for the babys existence.

August 25, 2009 at 4:59 pm
(9) Katie says:

Samira, you’re an idiot.

July 14, 2010 at 1:32 am
(10) seabreeze says:

I so agree with pro choice – . We are allowed to change our minds – that means choice.
I totally agree with Renn. I was 27 and using contraceptive. I was in a ma, I had been living with but his was an abusive alcholic. I had seen how he treated a daughter from a previous marriage. No child of mine would/should go through that. If I had the baby I would be clued to him for ever. The lists goes on and on, the pros and cons where thought through
My abortion . Do I think about it? You bet! do I regret it? NEVER!

August 18, 2010 at 8:22 am
(11) Chris says:

funny how all people believing in abortion have already been born.

October 24, 2010 at 12:28 am
(12) Emily Mathews says:

zac- grow up.

I used to strongly believe in pro-life, with the only exception being that if the woman was raped or if having the child wold endanger her life. I thought, women need to take responsibility for their actions! Children have the right to live! Humans are not God! But then i looked back at my own life and did some research, and have completely changed my mind.

First of all, a baby should never be punishment for something! Children have the right to be loved and wanted, and forcing girls/women to become mothers when they really don’t want to would make a terrible situation for the whole “family”.

My half-sister and i were both adopted, however her adoption was slowed because the state wanted to keep her around her biological father. Because nobody loved or wanted her, she was physically and mentally abused and now faces a lifetime of psychological problems and may never be able to live independently.

And then finally, i thought about God. If we’re just human down here, and God is the Almighty…. why do we think that we EVER have the final say in life or death? If a person dies, then it was God’s decision. If a person lives, well then it was His “fault” too! I think that to truly believe in God is to trust in His power completely, so people who claim that abortion is against God need to take a harder look at that logic.

November 9, 2010 at 11:21 am
(13) marisa says:

who would force a woman to go through the psychological trauma of delievery and the pain of pregnancy and the complications of delivery if she absoloutly did not want to be pregnant. i dont care if she carelessly got pregnant or more disturbing to me, was raped or even if the child would be mentally and physically disabled. its a basic human right to be in control of your reproductive system. adoption is not an alternative. adoption is for women who can be pregnant but cannot raise children, abortion is for women who cannot continue pregnancy or cannot go trhough with delivery. should i lose my entire life, pay thousands in medical bills, be in debt, and loose the chance to go to college, so that a ball of cells that cannot live independently of me, can maybe at some time become a living human being?

December 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm
(14) Ramses says:

Most of the debate over abortion focuses on the issue of rights, whether a womanís right to an abortion outweighs a fetusís right to life. The two factions involved in this controversy are poles apart in their views on abortion. Whereas the pro-choice movement contends that a womanís right to abortion is absolute, the pro-life movement asserts that a fetusís right to life is indisputable. Both sides rely on legal, scientific, and human rights to support their arguments. Abortion should because human life begins before conception,
Human life did NOT begin at conception. Human life existed before conception. What happens during conception is a life becoming a person, Certainly an important change occurs when the sperm fertilizes the egg; a new phase of the ongoing life has been entered. But the fact remains that human life, as egg and sperm, existed and lived before that moment. If you say that LIFE is what is equal to a person then how do you propose to save all the sperms or eggs that are wasted and die without being fertilized? All of the arguments claiming that LIFE begins at conception would apply equally to the human lives that begin before conception. Some people argue that before conception there are insufficient chromosomes to be a person. Well, then, exactly how many are needed? The usual 46? Then does that mean it is OK to abort a fetus with Turnerís syndrome (45 chromosomes) or Downís Syndrome (47)? Some people say ď They arenít actually human until fertilization.Ē Really? Then what species are they? Frogs? Well no, they are of the human specie.

February 3, 2011 at 6:32 am
(15) Daniel says:

Emily, your fatalistic “logic” is flawed. You’re suggesting we deny all responsibility for our choices and actions and pawn everything off on “Well God makes everything happen so it’s on Him.” You don’t actually believe this, and I’ll prove it.

Try living one day putting that sort of “logic” into action. Don’t set your alarm, God will wake you up. Don’t drive to work, He’ll get you there. If someone throws a rock at your head, don’t duck. Don’t get upset or sad if you read a news story about a man murdering his family, it wasn’t really him, it was God. It wouldn’t be right to put that guy in prison, after all he’s just a cause and effect machine with no God given intellect, conscience, or ability to make decisions.

Think about it,

February 9, 2011 at 5:21 am
(16) jamie says:

I have a question for all you pro life advocates….Do you eat meat? Well if you do then maybe you should take a look in a mirror because every cheeseburger you eat and every time you have tasty scrambled eggs for breakfast an innocent life was sacrificed so you could have a tasty meal. If you are advocating the right to life I would expect all you hypocrites to all be vegetarians because life is life no matter what stage it is at am I right? because that is what you are all saying. A woman should have the right to terminate an unwanted or unexpected pregnancy, should they abuse the right? Of course not should there be regulations? Yes. A child has the right to be loved and wanted…key word wanted if a child is put up for adoption they are often left with many emotional scars, of “why was I not wanted” if a pregnancy is terminated there is no question of why a existing human life may even be allowed to continue and function in a more healthy manor for when she may be ready to take care of a child. People say put it up for adoption, I could never put a child I bore up for adoption, the guilt I would have is unbearable, there are so many children in this world with out parents and the struggle people go through to adopt is insane why would you want to bring a child into the world and put them through that?

February 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm
(17) Daniel says:

Jamie, technically vegetable are living too, they’re just easier to catch. And I’m sure you are aware that us pro lifers are primarily concerned with the life of humans, particularly children whose mothers justify killing them by arguing that the child would have a difficult life therefore it is better that they should die. If that’s your standpoint why don’t you go kill every homeless person, every refugee of war, and especially every orphan in the world seeing how you are so concerned with their difficult lives.

April 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm
(18) Kay says:

I think that if you are pro life and choose not to have abortions, then fine, don’t. But you have no right to tell other people what to do on the subject. If you don’t like abortions, don’t have them. That’s my opinion on the subject.

April 26, 2011 at 2:05 pm
(19) Daniel (Apparently not the first) says:

Abortion arguments are hit and miss in my opinion.

First, you have the pro-lifers, who want the kid to survive except in circumstances like rape, mother-endangerment and incest, pretty reasonable, right?

Then you have the choicers that are offended that their actions have any sort of consequences like having unprotected sex or aborting their pregnancy.

Third, you have the feminists, who think that giving birth to a baby deprives them of their ability to worship the Almighty Feminist Movement. Maybe they’ll give birth to a girl?

Next, you have the people that think it’s an infringement on their rights for you to tell them “what to do” and if you don’t like it you “just don’t have an abortion” in other words, f*** off.

Finally, you have the people who know someone who has had an abortion. This group is so small it borders on non-existent. Hypothetically speaking we can do anything, realistically, we will react differently than expected.

P.S. I’m sure someone has a calm non-all CAPS response to what I’ve said.

May 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm
(20) Justin Meyer says:

This is really a debate about religion. The rational position is undeniably to allow abortion. Faith causes people to be irrational and to think that the suffering of the woman means nothing, and that her body is not hers, but God’s. And God is most assuredly a man.

June 19, 2011 at 9:17 pm
(21) John says:

Chris, I hope you reread that comment and see how it doesn’t make any f***ing sense.

“If thatís your standpoint why donít you go kill every homeless person, every refugee of war, and especially every orphan in the world seeing how you are so concerned with their difficult lives.”

I’m sorry but there is just no moral equivalence there. An orphan or a refugee is a living person with a sense of self-awareness, capable of making its own choices, they have thoughts, feelings, awareness and relationships. A fetus has none of these things.

July 17, 2011 at 5:53 am
(22) Nina says:

I’m just going to start off by saying I’m Pro-Life, an atheist (No religious basis for my claims), and a female–though I do believe in exceptions from birth complications (Both those that endanger the mother and those that relate to a child being born mentally ill), rape, and incest.

The big thing that bugs me about most of these arguments is that they aren’t taking into account any of the father’s rights to a child. It takes two people to make a baby–a girl can’t do it on her own. So what happens if a man wants a baby and a woman doesn’t? Should the girl honestly be allowed to go terminate a pregnancy when the man wanted the child? I understand this situation is rare–but what happens when it /does/ occur? The potential child is the man’s too–shouldn’t he have a good say on the matter? (Check out the Tremblay v. Daigle case–it’s interesting on this matter)

So when it comes to abortion, where should we put the man’s rights?

Another thing to sort of mention in terms of the woman’s rights is this: As a woman, I have the right to swing my arm wildly. I am allowed to do this until I’m blue in the face if I want to. If I hit someone else though, this right is /gone/ because it effects someone else. If I swing my arm and it damages something that even partially belongs to someone else my right also ends. The reason women’s rights is so iffy when it comes to abortion is because her termination of a pregnancy doesn’t simply affect her. It affects something and someone other than her own person.

I suppose the thing that bugs me the most is that I have to still, indirectly, pay for people to get abortions via tax-money where I live. So I’m paying for something I don’t agree with. That isn’t right.

Ultimately, I think that abortions should be illegal with strict exceptions. If people aren’t ready for a baby, maybe they shouldn’t have sex.

August 17, 2011 at 8:15 pm
(23) Lily says:

Abortion should be legal. Even if fetuses are people (and they aren’t, but for argument’s sake let’s say they are) they would not have the right to use someone’s body against his or her will. I can’t just hook myself up to someone’s circulatory system and use them like that, even to save my own life. They would have the right to unhook themselves from me, even if it would kill me, because I had NO RIGHT to use their body against their will like that. Similarly, fetuses have no right to use a woman’s body against her will, even if they need her to save (or develop) their own lives. It is her choice to remove them from their body and cease their improper use of her body. To outlaw abortion gives fetuses rights above and beyond those of fully developed adults. As a result, it reduces women to non-persons – mere incubators for hyper-persons (aka fetuses).

(This is also why the man’s rights do not matter as much – because its not his body that is being used against his will. That said, if the man does not want to be a parent, I think he should be able to sign an agreement ceding his parental rights and obligations. And if he really wants to be a father, he should find someone with similar values and talk about that BEFORE he decides to boink her.)

Additionally, I think it’s preposterous to think of fetuses as persons. They have no sentience whatsoever until very late in the pregnancy, let alone the consciousness or free will that defines humanity as valuable life. A person is an end in him or herself, and fetuses are definitely not ends in themselves. Of course, certain entities that do not qualify as ends in themselves may still deserve certain protections and respect; however, if we are truly concerned about such entities, our efforts would be best served in turning to vegetarianism and promoting animal rights, as animals can actually experience pain and emotions, unlike fetuses.

October 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm
(24) tasha says:

im pro choise i presonaly would not have an abortion and i cant contral other women so if u want an abortion then have one if not leave ppl alone

October 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm
(25) Anne says:

First off, it is ridiculous to expect people not to have sex. Sex prior to marriage is not a 21st century phenomenon, it has been happening as early as the 1920′s. So this whole idea of “women should just close their legs” is completely off base. Should some people be practicing birth control more strictly? Yes. But even in this instance, you CAN still get pregnant while using any form of birth control.

So should abortion be illegal and is it morally wrong? Nope. It is a fetus, a bundle of cells. It is not viable outside the human body. It does not have feelings or emotions. Sure, it MAY turn into a person over time. However, this does not mean that a women should be forced to keep an unwanted child.

Many people fail to recognize the reasons why women have abortions. Many people view it as “the easy way out.” When it is typically the other way around. Most women choose abortion because they want they believe it is morally wrong to bring a child into the world that they cannot care for. Also, adoption is not a replacement for abortion. At all. A women should not have to carry a baby to term if she chooses not to and women are more likely to want to keep their baby for themselves, despite their circumstances, once they see their baby.

April 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm
(26) Jamie says:

Justin Meyer, abortion is not a religous debate, or at least not just a religous debate, because even though the church is on the pro-LIFE side doesn’t mean that faith is causing people to be irrational. In fact from the opposite prospective once the egg is fertilized the zygote begins rapid cell division and is not that far to becoming a new born baby so the obvous choice is not to abort. Finally, if your arguement is lack of self-awarness is your arguement why důn’t you abort babies after birth.

May 28, 2012 at 3:16 pm
(27) Julie says:

I keep hearing that “if you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one.” O-kay. Fine. But what if you have no money and no place to live. What if your boyfriend tells you to either have the abortion or “get out!”? What then? I did not want an abortion; but I had to have one or I would be homeless. People who say “don’t want don’t have” don’t understand. Another argument for abortion is to say that the world is overpopulated. If someone feels this way, then they should do the noble thing and give up their own life instead of insisting that someone have an abortion.

May 31, 2012 at 9:41 pm
(28) Lea says:

For those who say adoption is an option, it’s not.
Need I remind anyone of the thousands if not millions of kids waiting to be adopted, most never will, or will be put into foster care, where they risk being abused and mistreated.
If I had the choice between never living or continual sexual abuse, I’d choose the first.

January 23, 2013 at 12:11 am
(29) Nick says:

Lily, I really like your argument. I thought it was very clever! You were saying “they would have the right to unhook themselves from me, even if it would kill me, because I had no right to use their body against their will”. It made me pause and reflect a little! I agree, you have NO RIGHT to hook yourself up to someone’s body against their will (if that logic applies to babies, I’m not sure). But the concern I have is with the second part of the logic. Once that person is latched on, does it follow that the person who has been hooked onto has the right to do something that would ultimately result in the death of the other person. For example, say someone, who is falling off a cliff, should grab hold of you to save his/her own life, is it OK to pull that person off of you, which would result in that persons death? They had no right to grab you without consent. But does that then give you permission to do an act that would end their life?Perhaps the two violations are delt with separately. The baby is accountable for violating your right not to be hooked onto, and you are accountable for ending his/her life because you had the choice to either save it or destroy it. Yes, you may endure varying levels of injury and long term effects. But when are these more offensive than murder? Someone could argue that it is self defence I suppose! But my view is that there are too many “knowns” vs. “unknowns” to label as such. Cool point of view! It was my first time seeing that position!

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