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Fathers Who Have Ever Encouraged a Mother to Procure an Abortion by Family Structure and Religious Practice

The 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth shows that men who grew up in intact married families and attended religious services at least weekly were less likely to encourage a Mother to obtain an abortion.[1]

Family Structure: Four percent of fathers from intact married families ever encouraged a Mother to have an abortion. They were followed by fathers from married stepfamilies, who were twice as likely to have encouraged a woman to have an abortion (8 percent), fathers from single divorced-parent families (10 percent), fathers from cohabiting stepfamilies (11 percent), and fathers from always-single parent families (15 percent). Fathers from intact cohabiting families were most likely to have encouraged a Mother to have an abortion (17 percent).

 

Religious Practice: Five percent of fathers who attended religious services at least weekly at the time of the survey encouraged a woman to procure an abortion. Six percent of fathers who never attended religious services, 8 percent of fathers who attended religious services at least monthly, and 8 percent of fathers who attended less than once a month encouraged a Mother to abort her child.

Family Structure and Religious Practice Combined: Three percent of fathers who grew up in intact married families and who worshipped at least weekly at the time of the survey encouraged a woman to abort her child. Two percent of fathers who grew up in intact married families but never attended religious services encouraged a woman to procure an abortion, compared to fathers who grew up in all other family structures and never attended religious services (9 percent), and fathers who grew up in all other family structures but attended weekly religious services (9 percent).

Related Insights from Other Studies: According to the Intergenerational Panel Study of Parents and Children, a 31-year-long study, 18-year-olds who said religion played an important role in their lives tended to be less supportive of abortion (as well as premarital sex, cohabitation, and divorce) than were their peers who said religion was less important to them.[2]

Another study found the responses of men who father a child out of wedlock vary according to the characteristics of their own family of origin. Fathers who had grown up in a family that received welfare were less likely to marry their baby’s mother than their peers whose families had not received welfare. White men were 39 percent less likely to marry their baby’s mother and Black men were 6 percent less likely to marry their baby’s mother.[3] Additionally, according to the National Longitudinal Survey of Young Men and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, Black men who live in the South are more likely to marry the mother of their baby than Black men who live in other regions, in the event of a non-marital pregnancy.[4] Broken families are exceptionally likely to be impoverished or rely on welfare.[5] Additionally, the South has a lower index of belonging than any other region in the country.[6] It may be that welfare and region are, in this case, proxies for family structure, and that broken families of origin contribute to the decreased likelihood that a father will marry the mother of his out-of-wedlock child. This finding dovetails with the fact that broken families of origin contribute to the increased likelihood that a father will encourage the mother of his child to abort it.

 

[1] These charts draw on data collected by the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997).

[2] L.D. Pearce and A. Thornton, “Religious Identity and Family Ideologies in the Transition to Adulthood,”
 Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 69 (2007): 1227-1243.

[3] Madeline Zavodny, “Do Men’s Characteristics Affect Whether a Nonmarital Pregnancy Results in Marriage?” Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 61 (August 1999): 764-773.

[4] Madeline Zavodny, “Do Men’s Characteristics Affect Whether a Nonmarital Pregnancy Results in Marriage?” Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 61 (August 1999): 764-773.

[5] Patrick F. Fagan, Andrew J. Kidd, and Henry Potrykus, Marriage and Economic Well-Being: The Economy of the Family Rises or Falls with Marriage (Washington, D.C.: Marriage and Religion Research Institute, a project of the Family Research Council, 2011) [database online]; available from http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF11E70.pdf: 16-20.

[6] Patrick F. Fagan, The US Index of Belonging and Rejection (Washington, D.C.: Marriage and Religion Research Institute, a project of the Family Research Council, 2010) [database online]; available from http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF10L25.pdf: 17, Chart 4.