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Continuity and Change in Attitudes Toward Abortion: Poland and the United States

  • Ted G. Jelen (a1) and Clyde Wilcox (a2)

In this study, we seek to describe and explain changes in mass abortion attitudes in Poland and the United States. Both countries exhibit modest, but significant, declines in support for legal abortion during the 1990s and early years of the twenty-first century. When compositional, structural, and period effects are estimated separately, both countries exhibit strong pro-life period effects beginning in the late 1990s. In Poland, compositional effects exert pro-choice pressure but are counteracted by strong pro-life structural effects. By contrast, compositional effects in the United States are rather weak, but strong pro-choice structural effects are offset by pro-life period effects. The latter result is attributed to strategic framing of the abortion issue by pro-life elites.A version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, September 2004. Thanks are due David Damore, Kenneth Fernandez, Sheila Lambert, Jonathan Strand, Matthew Wetstein, and Melanie Young for valuable comments and assistance.

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