MTV’s Influence on Pro-Choice Attitudes

A recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute revealed some striking attitudes about abortion. The survey of 3,000 adults found that while 56 percent of respondents believed that abortion should be legal in all or most instances, an almost equal number—52 percent—say that abortion is morally wrong. In addition, 70 percent of respondents identified as pro-choice, while almost two-thirds said they were anti-abortion.

What I found most interesting, however, was the influence that pop culture had on some respondents. According to the study:

Americans who have seen MTV’s shows “Teen Mom” or “16 and Pregnant” are significantly more likely than the general public to say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases (65% vs. 56% of the public) and to say that having an abortion is morally acceptable (48% vs. 40% of the public). They are also nearly twice as likely as those who have not seen these shows to say that at least some health care professionals in their communities should provide legal abortions (65% vs. 34% respectively).

“16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” have both drawn a significant amount of flack for ignoring the issue of abortion, and also for glamorizing teen pregnancy. While I’m in the camp that criticized the former, I always found the latter argument a bit ridiculous. The teens profiled on both shows are perpetually stressed out, undereducated, struggling financially, and more often than not raising their children as single parents (with varying degrees of family support). But aside from a stand-alone special aired by the network last December, neither series seemed too eager to address abortion head-on; any discussion of that option was usually dealt with in a brief conversation, if that.  [Read more...]