A UK study from ComRes has shown that women are more likely than men to favour restrictions on abortion, and the younger generation are more pro-life than their parents or grandparents.
Asked whether they would like to bring UK law in line with other European countries by halving the upper limit on abortions from 24 weeks to 12, 43% of women said yes, compared with 32% of men.
The age gap is even bigger than the gender gap: on the same question, 48% of 18-25-year-olds said yes, and only 31% of 55-64-year-olds.
Given that Westminster and the media lean pro-choice, and that feminism and ‘abortion rights’ are often conflated (thought not at OSFL), these figures – which mirror previous studies – are thought-provoking. Maybe it’s because women know more about pregnancy than men; maybe it’s because young people have grown up familiar with ultrasound images. Or maybe it’s because the practice of sex-selective abortion – which three-quarters of respondents said should be declared illegal – has concentrated the public’s mind.
But it is hard to deny, looking at these figures, that the caricature of the pro-life movement as misogynistic and outdated is a fantasy. And given the study’s other finding – that Labour and Lib Dem (traditionally UK’s two major left-of centre parties) voters are more pro-life than UKIP or Tory supporters (UK’s two major right-of-centre parties) – it suggests that the ‘right-wing’ tag won’t really stick either.