Nine out of 10 Kenyan adults say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, a new study shows.
A 24-country study by the Pew Research Center found that attitudes varied widely across countries, with religiously unaffiliated adults, people on the ideological left and women more likely to support legal abortion.
A median of 71 per cent of adults in the 24 countries surveyed said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while a median of 27 per cent said it should be illegal.
In all three African countries surveyed—Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa—majorities (89 per cent in Kenya, 92 per cent in Nigeria and 57 per cent in South Africa) said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. In Kenya, the survey was conducted face-to-face between March 26 and April 19, involving 1,036 adults in 105 households.
According to the survey, only 11 per cent of Kenyans and 8 per cent of Nigerians were in favour of legalising abortion, while 41 per cent of South Africans were in favour.
In Kenya, abortion remains heavily restricted, only being allowed in certain circumstances, such as when a trained health professional deems it necessary for emergency treatment, or when the life or health of the mother is at risk. The study found that abortion regulations are more restrictive in countries where support for legal abortion tends to be lower.
Most of the other countries surveyed have more permissive rules, allowing abortion up to a certain point in pregnancy, while in Brazil, Nigeria and Indonesia abortion is only allowed if a woman’s life is at risk.
The study also found that people’s attitudes towards abortion are strongly linked to how important they say religion is in their lives. In countries where a higher proportion of people are religious, much lower proportions think abortion should be legal.
“Religious affiliation is also an important factor when considering views on abortion within countries. On balance, adults with no religious affiliation who identify as atheists are more likely to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases than those who identify with a religion,” the study states.
In the United States, where a Supreme Court decision last year ended the constitutional right to abortion, 62 per cent of adults said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Support for legal abortion in the US has not changed in recent years.
In Europe, there is widespread agreement that abortion should be legal. In almost every European country surveyed, at least 75 per cent of adults said abortion should be legal in all cases. In Sweden, 95 per cent said it should be legalised. Poland stood out for more restrictive views of its residents, with only 56 per cent saying abortion should be legal.
In the Asia-Pacific region, majorities in Australia, India, Japan and South Korea said it should be legal in all or most cases, while 83 per cent of adults in Indonesia said it should be illegal in all or most cases.
In 15 of the 18 countries where the Pew Research Center measures political ideology on a left-right scale, those on the left are more likely than those on the right to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Gender was also found to influence views on abortion, although these differences are not as large or as widespread as ideological and religious differences, with women more likely than men to support abortion.