Perceptions of the Preborn: Moral Perceptions of Abortion in College Students




Caldwell, Carrie

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The purpose of this study was to identify college students’ perceptions on the moral permissibility of abortion, and to analyze how self-identifying characteristics may influence personal beliefs. A 14 question survey was sent to 2,500 undergraduate students via email. The first 4 questions asked participants to identify basic demographic characteristics. The remaining 10 questions were statements about abortion with answer choices presented using a Likert scale. In order to assess an individual’s moral perception of abortion, answer choices were coded to generate a cumulative score. The lowest possible score, 10, was considered liberal, and the highest possible score, 50, was considered conservative. 30 was used as a benchmark for moderate views on abortion. In order to categorize beliefs, we determined an individual’s viewpoint by separating scores to indicate if a respondent had a liberal, moderate-left, moderate-right, or conservative view of abortion. The mean of the overall composite scored data indicated that the average undergraduate college student has a moderate leaning conservative viewpoint on abortion. There were notable, statistically significant differences in how different ages, races, and religions view the topic. The findings of this study suggest that while gender may not influence how an individual views abortion, age, race, and religion do. Although more research is needed to eliminate possible confounding variables, results suggest that certain demographic variables are able to influence an individual’s opinion of abortion.



abortion, college, students, morals, ethics