Are Young Women Complacent About Abortion Rights?

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Here is DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

Do you notice a difference between young women and women our age in their excitement about Hillary Clinton? Is there a generational divide?

Here’s what I see: a complacency among the generation of young women whose entire lives have been lived after Roe v. Wade was decided.

I won’t even pretend that I understand this answer. Complacency about what? Abortion? Politics in general? And what does this have to do with Hillary Clinton?

Beats me. But it doesn’t really matter. Everyone assumes that DWS was talking about complacency toward abortion rights, and young feminists aren’t happy about her sweeping criticism of an entire generation. Generally speaking, though, the response has been that there are plenty of young women who work hard on abortion rights these days, which is certainly true. But DWS isn’t denying that. What she’s saying is that there are fewer young women today working hard on abortion rights. Or perhaps that they don’t have as much passion as they used to have.

That got me curious. Is this true? Is there any evidence for it? Unfortunately, I couldn’t really figure out how you might measure it. I doubt there’s any historical data on the number of abortion activists broken up by age and gender. There’s plenty of poll data on attitudes toward abortion, but that doesn’t help—and attitudes haven’t changed a lot anyway. Is there any kind of survey data (broken up by age and gender) that shows how strongly people feel about abortion rights? Or how often it’s a significant factor in voting? Not that I could find.

This isn’t really very important, and I suppose someone could just ask Wasserman Schultz to explain what she meant. But I’m still curious: is there any data at all that might point in one direction or another when it comes to generational attitudes toward abortion activism? Anyone have any ideas?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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