PCF pro choice forumFor those with a specialist interest in abortion issues
Information Resource Library Opinion, Comment & Reviews Publications Psychological issues
pro choice forum   Search
Abortion and disability
Ante Natal diagnosis
Abortion law
Ireland and abortion
Reproductive technologies
Ethical issues
What is PCF?  
Useful linksSubscribe  
Information Resource Library
Abortion and disability
  The research

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.

School students

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.

University students

Surveys were completed independently by students at Oxford University. Students from a number of different colleges took part.


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 contradictory opinions.


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 the interviews.

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
Survey 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.

Back to contents page
Return to top

Contact us
Information Resource LibraryOpinion, Comment & ReviewsEvents DiaryPsychological Issues
Home © PCF copyright