Unpacking A Partisan View On Abortion

One of the things that Richard Florida’s breakdown of abortion rates nationwide revealed was the extent to which the high and low numbers corresponded to Democratic and Republican states, respectively. Another, less obvious difference, was the degree of access to abortion services. Approximately 87% of U.S. counties lacked any abortion providers, according to a 2011 study. Meaning that in order to get an abortion, 24% of women have to travel “50 miles or more to find a capable physician,” according to a 2005 study in the Annual Review of Public Health.”

Some interesting correlations arise when abortion rates are paired with cultural, economic, and demographic factors. For instance, conservatives often cite how destructive abortions are to the family unit, and how facilitating these services would have dire consequences. In fact, the data shows that abortion rates are negatively correlated with divorce rates (around -.30), meaning that the higher abortion rates are in a state, the less likely people are to get divorced. The same association holds true for serial marriages, where the correlation ranges between (-.43 and -.49).

When comparing abortion rates against socio-economic elements, the data confirms some intuitive assumptions; for example, the wealthier a person or a state is, the higher the incidence of abortion will be. These correlations range between .53 and .65. Naturally, greater wealth is associated with higher college graduating rates and a workforce employed in professional, technical, and creative work, who have easier access to abortion providers. Tellingly, “abortion rates are negatively associated with the share of the labor force in blue-collar working class jobs (with correlations ranging from -.36 to -.64).”

Florida concludes from the data that “while the issue of abortion is typically posed in political or moral terms, its geography reflects the stark reality of class in America.”

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