The greatest difference in opinion over abortion rights exists between women at opposite ends of the political spectrum, not between men and women as is often supposed in popular culture. 

Data gathered by the General Social Survey, which has tracked American opinions on a wide range of topics for decades, found that religion and political ideology most directly correlate with differences in opinion on the abortion question.

Specifically, survey respondents were asked if they thought women should have the right to an abortion if she "wants it for any reason." And while men have consistently answered "yes" more often than women, the average difference according to gender is just 1.5 percent.

"In contrast, sex and age were usually not independently significant. Probably the mediating factor here is that, according to most surveys, women tend to be more religious than men."

In other words, conservative women are the strongest voice against abortion while liberal women are most in favor of abortion rights.

The surprising statistics, however, reveal the importance of penetrating media-driven narratives about divisive social issues. Approximately a quarter of women who self-identify as "extremely liberal" did not accept unequivocal abortion rights. And about eighteen percent of those who self-identify as "extremely conservative" did.

In his Big Think interview, Pastor Tim Keller explained what he saw as the limits of religion in the political sphere:

Read more at the New York Times

Photo credit: Shutterstock