Millennials Hold the Line on Abortion
A new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows that a sizable minority of American millennials hold conservative views about abortion.
Researchers Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox of the Washington, D.C.-based PRRI examined abortion beliefs in a new report, "How Race and Religion Shape Millennial Attitudes on Sexuality and Reproductive Health," based on interviews of 2,300 people ages 18 to 35.
The authors noted that younger adult Americans have more liberal views on issues such the legality of recreational marijuana and same-sex marriage compared to the overall population, but when it comes to abortion, opinions differ little from other age groups.
The findings are noteworthy given that one in three Americans born between 1980 and 2000 claim to have no religious affiliation, compared to one in 10 Americans who are senior citizens.
"Millennial attitudes about the legality of abortion generally mirror the attitudes of the general public," Jones and Cox noted. The survey found that 27 percent of millennials think abortion should be illegal in most cases while 15 percent say it should be against the law in all circumstances. There are no significant distinctions between millennial males and females on the issue.
"These statistics make it increasingly evident that although the millennial generation may not identify with God through a religious institution, there is a strong spiritual connection that operates within these young adult's lives," says Heath Adamson, director of Assemblies of God National Youth Ministries. "This gives us yet another motivation to make Jesus known to this generation."
Nevertheless, views about abortion are strongly influenced by religious identity, the researchers found. Among those aged 18-35, majorities of Hispanic Protestants (61 percent) and white evangelical Protestants (80 percent) believe abortion should be illegal in all or most instances.
"It's no surprise that the millennial generation is drawing strong lines connecting a faith mindset and the rejection of abortion as a universally accepted standard of health care," says Cindi Boston, chief executive officer of Pregnancy Care Center in Springfield, Missouri. Boston, who is a member of Central Assembly of God in Springfield, says organizations such as Heartbeat International as well as the more than 3,000 pregnancy help centers in the U.S. have increased the educational components of life issues at a community level through church relationships.
"There is a richness in attitude, depth, and heart coming up through the ranks of this generation," Boston says. "They are passionate about social justice, and because pastors are now addressing these issues with fortitude, they are better preparing our children and teens to defend biblical boundaries and lifestyles."
Overall, nearly six in 10 millennials are against making abortion services available to teenage girls without parental consent, according to the PRRI report.
More than a third of millennials (35 percent) think having an abortion is morally wrong. However, 39 percent believe the morality of a decision to abort a child depends on the situation. Only 21 percent of the age bracket consider abortion to be morally acceptable.
Hispanic young adults are most likely to say an abortion is morally wrong at 45 percent, compared to 35 percent of whites, 30 percent of blacks, and 23 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders.
The study also found significant opposition among millennials to traditionally undesirable sexual behaviors. Forty-one percent find intercourse between minors to be morally wrong, 38 percent oppose relations between same-sex adults, 27 percent disagree with having a child out of wedlock, and 25 percent differ with cohabitation when there is no intent to marry.
Among millennials, 71 percent disagree that marriage is an outdated concept.