Abortion opinion research in Latin America and the Caribbean: A review of the literature

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Abortion laws in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are highly restrictive and may not reflect public opinion on the issue. This article synthesizes the survey literature on attitudes toward abortion in the region. We searched standard computer indexing services and polled colleagues at regional meetings to identify every methodologically sound quantitative study of abortion opinion in LAC published between 1985 and 2005. Of the 26 studies that met inclusion criteria, none was conducted in the Caribbean, 11 were conducted in Brazil, 11 in Mexico, 3 in Argentina, and 1 in Colombia. The majority of populations surveyed support abortion under a greater number of circumstances than are permitted in their respective countries, particularly in cases of rape and threat to life or health. Future abortion opinion surveys should ask about support for the legality of abortion rather than about abstract acceptance of abortion, and questions should be worded carefully to capture the complexities of the public's views on this issue.