Abortion and disability
Our first aim in the research was to provide some statistical
material on young people's attitudes to abortion and in particular
their views on abortion for abnormality. We therefore conducted
a small questionnaire survey of 300 students. As a result
of our findings, we decided to carry out group and individual
semi-structured interviews, to provide more detail about young
people's attitudes to disability and abortion for abnormality.
A total of 300 surveys were completed (see appendix 1). 180
were completed by school students, and 120 by university students.
10 sets of group interviews each lasting half an hour were
conducted, recorded and transcribed. 6 sets were with school
students, 4 sets were with university students and 10 individual
interviews were also carried out, recorded and transcribed.
Surveys with school students were completed by the individual
students independently, within their schools during Personal
and Social Education lessons. Four different schools were
chosen to take part in the study. All schools were comprehensive,
mixed, and non-denominational.
Surveys were completed independently by students at Oxford
University. Students from a number of different colleges took
Interviews were recorded with focus groups. The interviews
were conducted orally by a single interviewer in groups of
7-10 students. The aim of the interviews was to provide detail
about the reasoning behind students' views concerning abortion
for abnormality. The group format was chosen to encourage
interaction and debate between the students, to maximise the
development of their ideas.
In addition some individual interviews were carried out, where
there was a particular reason for doing so: for example, where
students who categorised themselves as 'pro-choice' and 'feminist'
found it difficult to support abortion for abnormality. In
this instance we wanted to find out more about these apparently
In the survey sample, no students were excluded on the grounds
of ability or knowledge, and anonymity ensured students could
give honest answers. However, we recognize that the size of
our sample clearly limits the reliability of the quantitative
research. In particular, the number of students who identified
themselves as 'pro-life' was small, and as a result, the statistics
given in this category cannot be taken as a reliable measure
of pro-life opinion. This means that whilst the quantitative
information produced can clearly not be taken as definitive,
it does provide some interesting insights. We aimed to develop
what we perceived to be the key points in greater depth in
It is also necessary to qualify the reliability of the information
gathered through the interviews carried out. First the interviewees
volunteered themselves as research subjects, which may indicate
that they perceive themselves as 'having something to say'
on the issue of abortion. This may make their opinions unrepresentative
of young people as a whole. Secondly, most interviewees were
female, which may also have in some way skewed the information
gathered. However, we believe the interviews were significant
in allowing us to identify certain trends in opinion, which
may have more general applicability.
Presentation of results
All figures shown are in percentages. Respondents have been
sorted into categories in relation to their responses to question
1(a) which asked whether they would call themselves 'Pro-choice',
'Pro-life', 'Somewhere between', or 'Unsure'. We then present
answers given by respondents in each of these categories to
further questions. Results have been presented in this way
to examine in particular what the terms 'pro-choice' and 'pro-life'
mean to young people.
For each question asked, we look at responses from the total
sample of both university students and school students, and
also the responses from each group. The reason for the latter,
is to indicate whether there are differences in opinion between
the younger and older ages groups.
For each question we have selected the key statistics to indicate
the most significant responses.
A representative selection of comments from the interviews
carried out is included in the second section of the report.
The question which the comments respond to is given, and comments
are divided into those from university students and school
students. We have provided a commentary to introduce the response
to each question.
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