did level off in 1982-1983, but no reversal has occurred. In fact, the trends on X-rated movie viewing suggest that in at least one area not even a levelling off has happened.
Attitudes toward abortion are only somewhat related to contraceptive morality and even more remotely to sexual morality (9.16-9.23). From the start of polling on this issue in 1962 until 1974-1975 approval of legalized abortions under various circumstances rose appreciably ( Smith, 1985; Legge, 1983; Benin, 1985). The liberalizing of state laws in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the Supreme Court decision in 1973 legalizing abortion seen to have aided the growth of approval. Support then settled on a plateau for almost a decade. Since then approval has drifted downwards, but still remained well above the levels of the 1960s.
Men and women have shown little difference in their approval of abortion. Differences between major religious groups have been more notable. Jews and those without religious affiliation have been most supportive of abortion, followed by Protestants, and then Catholics. Among Protestants, however, there is considerable disagreement, with Fundamentalists the most opposed and liberal denominations such as Episcopalians and Unitarians much more supportive.
Significant changes in sexual and reproductive morality have occurred over the last twenty-some years. These alternations of existing attitudes and behaviors about these most intimate of human matters are of great importance. Yet the changes of the 1960s do not quite amount to an overthrow of an older, sexual order and its replacement with a new one. Nor have AIDS, the New Religious Right, nor other recent events reversed the changes that have occurred.
Benin Mary Holland. 1985. "Determinants of opposition to Abortion: An Analysis of the Hard and Soft Scales". Sociological Perspectives, 28:199-216.
Legge Jerome S., Jr. 1983. "The Determinants of Attitudes Toward Abortion in the American Electorate". Western Political Quarterly, 36:479-490.
Schneider William, and I. A. Lewis. 1984. "The Straight Story on Homosexuality and Gay Rights". Public Opinion, 7(1): 16-60.
Singh B. Krishna. 1980. "Trends in Attitudes Towards Premarital Sexual Relations". Journal of Marriage and the Family, 36:387-393.
Smith Tom W. 1985. Trends in Attitudes on Sexual and Reproductive Issues. Presented at the NORC/Allensbach Conference on the Family, Chicago.