Study: College Students’ Peers Affect Abortion Views, Become Less Pro-Life

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 13, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Study: College Students’ Peers Affect Abortion Views, Become Less Pro-Life

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 13
, 2008

Los Angeles, CA ( — A new study from UCLA finds that college students are more influenced by their peers on hot political topics like abortion than their professors. The study points to how college students are more inclined to support abortion as they become upperclassmen.

The study points to the need for more pro-life outreach on college campuses and indicates campus groups are more likely to be liberal in nature and have a strong influence.

While 52 percent of college freshmen told UCLA researchers in the study that they support abortion, the same group of students asked two years later as juniors indicated they supported abortion by a 60 percent clip.

"People are moving out of the center to the left during college," researcher Alexander Astin said. "If you find yourself in a peer group where on balance the attitudes lean left, you’ll tend to move in that direction."

UCLA researchers surveyed 15,000 students who entered 136 colleges in 2004.

The study also found that students who are more pro-life tend to orient towards a smaller number of colleges — with a sizable number heading to Catholic and evangelical Christian colleges or universities with a more conservative reputation.

That makes outreach to the majority of colleges and universities even more important as pro-life students there may find themselves in a clear minority.

Kristan Hawkins, the director of Students for Life of America, talked about that with on Monday and she said she’s not surprised by the survey results because it reflects the trend her group has seen.

However, Hawkins believes professors play a role in moving students in the pro-abortion direction, too.

"We believe it is a combination of students and professors," she said. "Many students enter college unversed in major social and moral issues and are subject to persuasion from both their professors and fellow peers."

"The staff members of Students for Life of America, all being recent college graduates, have witnessed first-hand that peer groups have a strong influence over many in the student body of college campuses," she explained.

"However, they have witnessed even more the professors having a stronger effect on the formation of ideologies with their college peers," hawkins told

The college experience’s tendency to turn pro-life students into abrotion advocates is also seen in polls of high school students showing a majority are pro-life.

A January 2006 Hamilton College poll found a majority of high school seniors do not believe abortions should be allowed for sociological reasons such as when women are too poor to afford another child or unable to have a baby at the time — comprising virtually all of the abortion cases.

When asked, some 67 percent of high school seniors said abortion is either always (23%) or usually (44%) morally wrong. Just 31 percent said it was a morally correct decision.

Related web sites:
Students for Life of America –

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