Abstract of Abortion – The Least of Three Evils (1994)


This study seeks to understand why women who believe abortion is morally wrong can accept it as permissible under certain circumstances. The study also seeks to find what factors influence their decision to abort such as gestational age, abortion terminology, present motherhood, and cultural influences.


One-on-one, in-depth interviewing was used with a group of 43 female participants between the ages of 18-45 years old in St. Louis, Missouri in addition to two pilot interviews in Memphis, Tennessee. A large sampling was not needed as the findings can be generally applied to others who are emotionally similar. Participants were screened by answering questions to determine their attitudes toward abortion. The participants that were chosen to take part in the study had positioned themselves in the “moderate middle” in their attitudes toward abortion. The participants were then divided into four groups 1) married, with children, 2) married, without children, 3) single (never married), with children, and 4) single (never married), without children.


This study concludes that women perceive abortion as the least of three evils (abortion, adoption, and parenting). The perceived death of self is what is known as “evil.” Abortion represents the death of the preborn child while parenting represents the death of self and adoption represents the death of both the child and self. We must reposition the levels of evil with abortion being the greatest by showing that the death of the preborn child is only the trigger for the gradual death of self caused by the guilt and pain of the act of abortion.

We must act in the interest of women and reinforce that the most respected “choice” is that of choosing life. We can empower women to truly free themselves and regain control of their lives by choosing parenthood or adoption. Influence should occur through education about the adoption process, facts of fetal development, and the long-term effects of abortion.

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Copyright © 1994 by Vitae Foundation. All rights reserved.