There’s some cognitive dissonance when it comes to making ideals about reproductive rights a reality.
About half of the college women who took our survey supported some sort of restriction on abortion—a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, for example, or a ban except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother. However, these women seemed unsure how to put these restrictions in place. They didn’t want the government to be involved, but they also didn’t think abortions should be available to anyone, at any time, for any reason.
We followed up with these women to ask them three questions:
Who should enforce restrictions on abortion, if not the government?
If a woman has an abortion that should have been banned under the restrictions, who should be punished, and what is an appropriate punishment?
How did you come to your views on abortion?
Most of the women interviewed believe that medical professionals should be the people making decisions on any abortion restrictions:
Some college women who supported restrictions still didn’t support any punishment for abortions that violated those restrictions. But those who did have a consequence in mind gave interesting answers. One common idea was a fine of some sort.
As you can see, there’s a lot of agreement on two points—that doctors should be more involved than the government in helping women make reproductive decisions, and that punishment for abortion should generally avoid harsh consequences like prison time. But restricting abortion is tough. While most people have a general idea of when abortions are right and wrong, it’s hard to translate that into policy ideas that make sense.