The influence of sexuality/gender schema on attitudes toward legal abortion



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Texas Tech University


This study addressed gaps in prior research regarding attitudes toward legal abortion. It was guided by a feminist perspective that casts the issue as a symbolic politic. Interweaving social perception and cognitive schema models, sexuality/gender schema was conceptualized to include dimensions of females' sexual behavior, motherhood role, and character evaluation and was analyzed in relation to individuals' legal abortion attitudes. Respondents included 459 adults between the ages of 18 and 77.

Simultaneous analysis of demographic and ideological variables was conducted by path analyses. It was found that traditional sexuality and motherhood ideologies are positively and significantly related with one another and are related similarly to disapproval of legal abortion. Empirical evidence supported the hypothesis that the ideologies coexist as a sexuality/gender cognitive schema.

Factor analyses revealed sex-specific construction of sexuality and motherhood ideologies. Path analyses also revealed sex-specific relationships between the ideologies and legal abortion attitudes. When all variables were controlled, religious fundamentalism was the only demographic variable that was related consistently to disapproval of legal abortion.