Unwed pregnant teens and 20-somethings who attend or have graduated from private religious schools are more likely to have abortions than their peers from public schools, according to research in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
The research study examined how personal religious involvement, schoolmate religious involvement and school type influenced the pregnancy decisions of a sample of 1,504 unmarried and never-divorced women age 26 and younger from 125 different schools. The women ranged in age from 14 to 26 at the time they discovered they were pregnant. 25% of women in the sample reported having an abortion, a likely underestimate.
Results revealed no link between a young woman’s decision to have an abortion and her religious involvement, frequency of prayer or perception of religion’s importance.
Rates of abortions were higher for women educated at private religious schools. The type of religious school was not a factor – Catholic schools had similar rates as other religious schools.
Data for this study came from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a school-based study of the health-related behaviors of students in grades 7 to 12. Add Health was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and several other agencies.