Pro-life Americans like to keep their blinders on, ears shut, and mouths zipped tightly closed when it comes to their own abortions. An anti-abortionist fears judgment from her peers when she undergoes an abortion herself, which is exactly why her entire party has a different perception of the truth than pro-choice Americans. Pro-lifers are indeed less likely to find out someone they know has had an abortion, and researchers from New York University delve into the details in their blindfold-dropping findings published in the journal Sociological Science.

"Americans who are opposed to abortion are less likely to hear that their sister, mother, or friend had an abortion than their pro-choice peers," the study’s coauthor Sarah K. Cowan, an assistant professor in NYU's Department of Sociology, said in a press release. "Abortions are often kept secret both by women who have had them and by their confidants. Moreover, abortions are especially likely to be kept secret from those who are pro-life. These disclosure differences affect who hears about others' abortions and may help explain the relative stability of Americans' opinions on abortion."

When researchers asked 1,600 American adults across the country their knowledge of others', their own, or their partner’s abortion and miscarriage experiences, they found a big difference between the groups. Americans who believe abortion should not be legal under any circumstance were 21 percent less likely to hear about someone else having an abortion. It makes sense, though. Why would someone want to tell you about their abortion if you’ve openly expressed you don’t think it’s right? Those who were more liberal and accepting of abortions were more likely to hear about their friends and family having one because they’ve welcomed the concept. Anti-abortionists’ deceptive dishonesty only fuels a façade of lies and shame.

Abortion Figures, Gallup
Pro-life vs. Pro-choice Abortion Figures, Gallup

In America, half of all pregnancies are unintentional and 40 percent of them end in abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Abortion has always been a difficult topic, riddled with misunderstanding, politically-fueled opinions, and religious basis. Despite the strong feelings, Americans still remain divided on the abortion issue, with 47 percent pro-choice and 46 percent pro-life.

"A third of women who have had an abortion have kept it a secret from someone with whom they usually talk about personal matters," Cowan said. "In addition, one-quarter of confidants also keep the secret. Abortions are predominantly kept secret from immediate family members. People keep abortions — their own and others' — a secret for reasons of privacy and to protect the woman who had the abortion from stigma."

People were found more likely to discuss their miscarriages than abortions. Only 52 percent of abortions were heard of on average, but 79 percent of people have heard of another person’s miscarriage. Abortions occur more often than miscarriages, yet there’s less of a stigma and danger of judgment when discussing abortions. This is regardless of race, age, religion, and political party affiliation. Abortion conversations are strong enough to sway a democrat out of a vote. In fact, 27 percent of Republicans consider themselves pro-choice, compared to 67 percent of Democrats who believe abortion should be legal. It’s an astounding and persuasive difference. Of the Republican party, 69 percent are pro-life, which means nearly a third of their party is inclined to have secret abortions because they fear of their party’s disapproval.

"American women of all backgrounds have abortions, but pro-choice Americans are more likely to hear of them than their peers who are opposed to legalized abortion," Cowan said. "These differences in what Americans hear can affect public opinion, potentially helping explain the relative stability in public opinion on abortion over the past 30 years."

Source: Cowan SK. Sociological Science. 2014.