Abortion attitudes in post-repeal Ireland: the role of the law, ethical ideologies and empathy

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O’Connor, Sharon
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BA (Hons) in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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The aim of this experimental, quantitative study was to examine if receiving a salient reminder of the new legislation for abortion in Ireland influences abortion attitudes and whether ethical ideologies and empathy levels are predictive of abortion attitudes. Irish residents, over 18years (n=434) were accessed through online snowball sampling and randomly assigned to 1 of 2 questionnaires, 1 of which contained a reminder of the law. Both groups were asked to complete abortion attitude and approval questionnaires, Ethical Position questionnaire and the Toronto empathy measure. Findings did not show a relationship between having a legal reminder and attitudes however, they did reveal correlations between ideologies and empathy with attitudes and approval. This would suggest that strong moral beliefs and empathy levels, rather than legality, can predict abortion attitudes. Further research could identify how these findings could have implications in the changing face of abortion laws worldwide.