Knowledge of, and attitudes toward abortion in a sample of secondary school learners : exploring gender and religious differences.
A number of studies have attempted to describe and explain both the levels of and trend in support for abortion in the adult population and college students, yet there is a gap around abortion attitudes of adolescents. This quantitative study aims to examine the levels of knowledge and attitudes of abortion among male and female secondary school learners, to examine gender differences among the learners with regards to abortion attitudes and knowledge as well as to investigate the effect of religion in terms of abortion. A sample of 150 adolescent males and females from Grade 11 between the ages of 15 to 19 years old was chosen to be used in the study. This research study was conducted at a secondary school in a lower middle class suburb in Durban. The learners were required to complete a questionnaire measuring levels of knowledge (based on different components of the South African legislation regarding abortion, that is, the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy (CTOP) Act (1996); a rating scale of abortion attitudes (Esposito & Basow, 1995) and a short biographical component. The statistical programme SPSS 15.0 was used to analyze the data. The results show that the respondents' knowledge about South African legislation governing the act of abortion; varied, attitudes to abortion differed by gender, sexual status and the reasons for abortion. It was found that the older the person, the more positive their attitude towards the elective reasons for abortion. In this study, more positive attitudes towards abortion were prevalent in the Hindu sample as compared to the Christian sample.