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Abstract

Do forces that impacted feminist beliefs in the past, such as gender and generation, impact feminist beliefs today within the context of abortion policy support? While the abortion rights issue was framed during the feminist movement era as a feminist issue, it is now clearly framed along partisan and ideological lines. Public opinion on issues that percolated through the feminist movement and identified as feminist issues in the past may no longer be viewed as feminist issues today. The abortion rights issue was chosen because of the oft-held perception that it is solely a women’s issue. The strong association of abortion rights with the feminist movement makes opinion on abortion rights an appropriate domain in which to analyze the relative impact of gender, generation and feminist beliefs on policy support.

Data from the 2004 American National Election Study showed that neither gender nor generation achieved a significant impact on feminist beliefs. Men’s and women’s exposure to the feminist movement, the ideals that the movement sought, and certain policies advanced by the movement, such as abortion rights, achieve disparate impact across generations among women and among men. These findings are critical when one questions how feminist policy questions will be approached and responded to by the public and political elites in the future as feminist beliefs may be a less meaningful precursor to both feminist policy support and issues framed in feminist terms than they have been in the past.

Note on the Author

Terri Susan Fine, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Central Florida. Her research focuses on both public opinion and public policy concerning women, as well as how the major political parties address women’s issues in their platforms. Her work has appeared in such journals as Women and Politics, Social Policy Journal, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Polity, White House Studies, Perspectives on Political Science and the Social Science Journal.

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