Data Journalism: Group 2.5

Hey Guys!

For our group project, we decided to look at how the Catholics in different countries view abortion and whether the implementation of the law influences how they perceive it. The focus of our research will be targeting four countries in total which are considered to be countries with the highest Catholic populations and where Catholicism is the main religion. Out of the four we choose two (Spain and Poland) that have passed the laws to accept abortion and two (Columbia and Philippines) that have laws against abortion. We also made sure that these countries were also available on the World Value Survey, as this is the database we will be using in order to gather reliable information using two variables; the importance of religion further divided by the religious denomination and the  justification of the abortion. The World Value Survey will provide us the statistics of in what way each of the selected countries perceive abortion and how strongly they value their Catholicism, in the chosen time period (which in our case is 2010-2014).

There has been an ongoing debate for several years concerning the topic of abortion. It has become a central topic in international discussions, moreover, there have been several cases over the years in which religious figures and/or political figures justify their abortion beliefs through religion. We found this topic of abortion to be quite pertinent in today’s day and age, especially if thinking back to the abortion talk in the United States, which initially started from the ban on abortion that was set in Alabama among other conservative states in the US in May 2019. This caused quite the debate, especially on social media but also in the mainstream media. Moreover, and specific to our case was the remarks of the leader of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis concerning the aforementioned abortion ban in some US states. He publicly stated how abortion is not condoned and that abortion is like hiring a “Hitman”.  Because of his huge influence especially on the Catholic followers and just the general influence religion has on people who follow it we thought it would be interesting to study whether it contributes to the perception of abortion, and whether or not the implemented laws on the issue also contribute or change the perception towards abortion. All in all, we thought that this topic would be fitting for our project due to it being highly relevant in current times.

     Our reasoning behind choosing the four particular countries is based on a list provided by Worldatlas, in which they listed countries based on their Catholic population. By focusing specifically on Catholicism, it will enable us to compare and assess whether there is any relation between this specific religion in the different countries and their perception of abortion and what influence that laws implemented on the issue play in perception of abortion. Furthermore, we intend on potentially also dividing the data based on age to gain a better understanding on whether or not the different age groups differ in terms of how religious they are and in-turn if this affects their perception of abortion.

We are going to be use the abortion and religion and religion denomination variables of the World Value Survey datasets in order to measure the relevance of Catholicism regarding the topic of abortion. The database provides information about international social and political values, categorised by countries. This helps us in clearly defining our comparison between countries based on different social values and topics, in our case religion and the justification of abortion. We will be using data concerning the time period cluster of 2010-2014, since it is the most updated version of the datasets, but also because this is a period of rise in awareness for many social issues and topics, including abortion. Therefore, it would be interesting to compare the data to current discussion regarding abortion, since it provides insights into the underlying factors of the issue.

The four selected countries of which all are considered countries with the highest percentage of catholic nationals and two have successfully passed laws of abortion right and two have strict abortion rules, where ranked according to citizens value of their faith and their attitude towards abortion. All four countries were analysed based on data extracted from the World Value Survey. The data sets consisted of 1026 participants and asked the participants of all four countries to rank their opinion on the following questions: a) How justifiable is abortion? b) How important is religion in life?

The responses were ranked from very to not at all and coded on scales. The results showed that in the countries in which abortion is primarily illegal, religion was considered “very important” by 58,9% in Colombia and 85,9% in the Philippines and only “not at all important” by 3,5% and 0,3% of the participants. In contrast, the countries in which abortion laws permit women to abort pregnancies out of their own free will and their own reasons, Poland showed results of 45,7% of participants considering religion very important and 4,8 not at all, and Spain only indicated that 10,7%  consider religion very important while 35,9% do not consider it important at all. The data showed a significant relationship between the value of religion and the attitude towards abortion in all four countries. In Columbia, 74,3% considered it never justifiable, while 1,4% considered it always justifiable. A similar attitude could be seen in the Philippines, where 56,6% considered it never justifiable and 9,7% considered it always justifiable. Poland´s attitude towards abortion does not significantly differ from those of the Philippines, with 43,8% considering it never justifiable and 2,8% considering it always justifiable. Finally, Spain shows the least strong attitude both, towards and against abortions, with 17,7 considering it never justifiable and 15,6% considering it always justifiable.

To assist us further in our research we intend on interviewing a member of the Religious studies faculty as we think he or she will have sufficient knowledge on this topic and in a position to provide a further understanding to our results. At the moment, we are still waiting to hear back from the members we have emailed to be our potential interviewees. However, we have come up with potential question we intend on asking the interviewee:

  • What do you know about Roman Catholic’s standpoint on abortion? Where do you stand in this debate?

  • Why do you think Catholics have this approach on abortion?

  • Do you find the association between religion and abortion justifiable, giving the current discussion on the topic?

  • Do you think Pope Francis and his view on abortion affects the rest of the (Roman?) Catholic population?

  • What do you think is the younger generation’s view on the current abortion laws? Do you believe religion plays an important role in shaping these opinions?

  • Do you think the implementation of laws whether for or against abortion influences peoples view on abortion?


We are hoping that the future results from this investigation provide a better understanding as to whether there is any link or relation between Catholicism and the perception of abortion and whether the implementation of laws for and against it influences the perception. . Are you also interested in whether Catholicism impacts abortion? If you said yes, we hope you stand by as there is much more to come on this hot topic!


Posted in Data Journalism 2020