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Monday, February 13, 2017

Data show pro-life movement must work harder in less religious states


Gallup recently asked residents of all fifty U.S. states to identify themselves as "very religious," moderately religious," or "nonreligious," and used this data to rank the states by religiosity. It found that Mississippi has the largest percentage of residents who are "very religious," at 59%. The least religious states are concentrated in New England: Vermont (21%), Maine (23%), and Massachusetts (25%).

The following table compares states' religiosity against two measures of its progress (or lack thereof) on the right to life: its legal ranking, via Americans United for Life, and its abortion rate, via the Guttmacher Institute. (We previously explored the correlation between pro-life laws and low abortion rates.)

State
% Very Religious
AUL Rank (#1 being most pro-life)
Abortion Rate (per 1,000 women of reproductive age; national rate is 14.6)
Mississippi
59
7
3.7
Alabama
56
23
8.3
Utah
54
25
4.6
South Dakota
53
6
3.5
South Carolina
52
20
6.4
Arkansas
52
4
8.0
Louisiana
50
3
10.8
Tennessee
50
15
10.7
Oklahoma
49
1
7.0
North Carolina
47
22
15.1
Georgia
47
8
15.7
Kentucky
47
19
4.1
Texas
45
17
9.8
Missouri
45
11
4.4
North Dakota
44
13
8.7
West Virginia
44
32
6.0
Nebraska
43
16
6.3
Kansas
43
2
12.9
Virginia
42
18
12.5
Idaho
42
21
4.2
New Mexico
41
39
11.7
Indiana
41
12
6.3
Iowa
40
35
7.5
Wyoming
39
37
1.1
Pennsylvania
38
10
13.3
Ohio
38
14
10.3
Wisconsin
38
24
5.6
Minnesota
38
28
9.3
Michigan
37
9
15.4
Illinois
37
30
16.3
Delaware
37
31
16.7
Florida
37
26
20.6
Arizona
36
5
9.8
Maryland
36
38
23.4
New Jersey
34
47
25.8
Montana
34
40
9.1
Colorado
32
29
12.1
California
31
49
19.5
New York
31
44
29.6
New Hampshire
29
33
10.4
Washington
29
50
13.7
Hawaii
28
41
14.0
Connecticut
28
43
19.2
Oregon
27
46
12.0
Alaska
27
34
10.0
Nevada
27
45
19.4
Rhode Island
27
27
17.0
Massachusetts
25
42
15.3
Maine
23
36
9.5
Vermont
21
48
12.1

Clearly, a correlation exists: more religious states tend to enjoy better pro-life laws and lower abortion rates.* The correlation is not perfect; to take one example, New Mexico and Indiana are very similar in terms of religiosity (41% "very religious" and 30% "nonreligious"), but New Mexico ranks far lower on AUL's list and its abortion rate is nearly double that of Indiana. 

Nevertheless, there is cause for concern. A faith-based pro-life movement is bound to be ineffective in the states where preborn babies most urgently need our help: New York (only 31% "very religious" and a sky-high 29.6 abortion rate); New Jersey (34%, 25.8); Maryland (36%, 23.4); Florida (37%, 20.6); California (31%, 19.5); Nevada (27%, 19.4); and Connecticut (28%, 19.2).

Let us leave no unborn child behind. If you support a secular approach that meets people where they are, please donate to Secular Pro-Life


*For the math nerds, I ran the data through an online coefficient calculator and found a correlation between % very religious and AUL Life List rank of -0.7185; between % very religious and abortion rate of -0.5051; and between AUL Life List rank and abortion rate of 0.4602.

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