Different insights on the abortion debate

Different insights on the abortion debate

-by workgroup 3G2.

On the 14th of March 1970, a protest group called the Dolle Minas went on the streets with bare bellies to demonstrate for abortion with the quote: Baas in eigen buik “Boss in own belly” (Hof, 2019). After 14 years of demonstrating, in 1984 abortion became legal in the Netherlands. So, you would think that the debate would be over by now, but that’s not the case. Three months ago, on November the 16th, the so-called “March on life”  was held in Utrecht Venderbosch, 2019). Approximately ten thousand people went on the street to demonstrate against abortion. The leader of the SGP (Christian party in Holland) gave a speech on this specific day to support their anti-abortion position.

The demonstration in November was the 27th demonstration held by the anti-abortion organisation.  So, the debate is still as ongoing as it has always been. This shows that the debate on abortion is certainly not over, and that there is a big gap in society between people pro and contra abortion. There are many different opinions on this topic in contemporary society and there are not a lot of articles available on this current topic in the Netherlands, which makes it interesting to do further research on.

For this research, two methods will be applied. Information will be gathered through scraping data  and more in-depth information will be conducted through interviews. For scraping data we will use the YouTube Data Tools. The two predominant news institutes in the Netherlands have been selected in order to find out how the public of these institutions view the topic of abortion. The most viewed videos of these news institutions regarding the topic of abortion have been selected. The comments on these videos will be analyzed in order to find out specific percentages of how the public opinion is divided and how it differs between the different news channels. The research results will be divided into pro-abortion, anti-abortion and neutral positions. In order to have a clear overview of the comments, the Video Info and Comments tool from YouTube Data Tools will be used. We will download the comments of the videos, using the search query: *name news channel* + abortion. This tool provides the option to download the comments that are placed underneath the videos and it will also show how many likes a particular comment has. We will use these outcomes to get a better insight on the general view on abortion and they will give us data to further analyse. More personal information will be gathered through interviews. The idea is to interview someone who has had abortion done. We are considering doing multiple interviews with people who have a certain opinion on abortion. This would add to the data gathered through the YouTube Data Tool in a more personalized way. This method also provides more options to get detailed answers to specific questions regarding abortion.

The YouTube channels that we will use for this research will be RTL Nieuws (with over 119.000 subscribers on their channel)  and NOS Journaal ( with over 92.000 subscribers on their channel). We chose these two news channels because these two channels are the most watched news programmes in the Netherlands.  (Kijkonderzoek, 2020). When scraping the data of these two channels we filtered on the most watched videos of these news outlets.

We look at YouTube news channels because Pew Research Center published a research on YouTube and concluded that platform YouTube has developed itself to an important news platform. Visitors of the platform use the site as a news outlet, in five of the fifteen months the most used search term was news related. The research center concluded this from figures that YouTube itself published. (Kolk, 2012)

Moreover, for the purposes of our research, basic statistics about the Youtube comments and whether they are a sufficient source for determining public opinion is essential. 57% of all comments in the category of news are part of discussions and nearly 40% of discussion posts contain offensive characteristics, suggesting that strongly polarizing topics are addressed. Moreover, in most categories, the average word count lies between 9 and 16, but in News & Politics, it is 37, indicating longer and more substantive disputes. These statistics were collected by data mining a large amount of comment data and a subsequent in-depth analysis was done by dividing comments based on their types or classes. The main conclusion was that YouTube comments appear to reflect real-life communication behaviour and prove that people tend to comment on their opinions on polarizing topics (such as abortion) in the comments.

The next source is a study on opinions on abortion in Western Europe. They gained the data through World values surveys, this is a research project where belief- and value patrons are being researched. This survey looks at how the patrons change during the years. Their database holds over 400.000 interviews of people all over the world, all 18 years or older (World value survey, n.d.x). They composed a general opinion against abortion on a scale 1 to 10 (1 is never justified and 10 is always justified). In the Netherlands, the rate is 5.58 (in 2000) and average rate is 4.92. This research shows that the opinion of others has a lot of influence on the people (Need 2008).


The representative sample of people was chosen for this research. We believe that by deliberately choosing people to interview, we will gain more in-depth perspectives of both pro-life or pro-choice sides and moreover, an opinion of the professional from abortion clinic should provide a new point of view as well. We aim to comprehend this polarized opinion about the abortion and what drives individuals to hold these opinions.


Interview 1:

Abortion clinic

  • e-mail requests sent to 2 Dutch abortion clinics

  • expecting to meet this/next week

Questions for abortion clinic:

  1. How do you feel about providing abortion?

  2. Have you ever thought about moral side of the abortion? Or do you think about it as a necessary part of your job?

  3. The pro-life protesters oftentimes argue that “abortion is a murder”. What is your opinion about it?

  4. What are the most common reasons for women to choose this option?

  5. Do you believe that the abortion rate is too high in the Netherlands? If so, what can be done to prevent it?


Interview 2:

Pro-choice opinion

  • meeting with a girl who went through the abortion

  • Thursday (March 12th) at University Library Singel


Questions for the girl who did abortion:

  1. Can you explain your position towards abortion? Why do you hold this opinion?

  2. How did you feel after the abortion was made? And how do you feel about it now?

  3. Were you doubting before deciding to have abortion? If yes, which were your thoughts?

  4. When you decided to have abortion, what was your family’s reaction?

  5. Which were the main reasons that led you to take the decision of having abortion?

  6. Were you influenced by the opinion of others, or media outlets when you made your decision to go for aboirtion?


Interview 3:

Pro-life opinion

  • request posted in “Mars voor het Leven/Schreeuw om Leven” (March for life/Scream for life) Facebook group about participating in an interview


Questions for against-abortion person:

  1. Can you explain your position towards abortion? Why do you hold this opinion?

  2. Do you believe that under some circumstances abortion should be allowed? (health danger of the mother, rape etc.)

  3. What do you think should be done to decrease the abortion rate? Do you think that right education and easily accessible protection (e.g. free birth control pills) would help?

  4. How do you feel about the risk that women would face when abortion will become illegal?



 Adamson, David M., Nancy Belden, Julie DaVanzo, and Sally Patterson, How Americans View
World Population Issues: A Survey of Public Opinion. Santa Monica, CA: RAND
Corporation, 2000. https://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1114.html

     “Induced Abortion in the United States.” 2016. Guttmacher Institute. May 3, 2016.

Dias, Elizabeth, Annie Karni, and Sabrina Tavernise. 2020. “Trump Tells Anti-Abortion Marchers, ‘Unborn Children Have Never Had a Stronger Defender in the White House.’” The New York Times, January 24, 2020, sec. U.S. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/us/politics/trump-abortion-march-life.html.

Glenza, Jessica. 2020. “Will 2020 Be the Year Abortion Is Banned in the US?” The Guardian, January 21, 2020, sec. World news. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/20/us-abortion-rights-ban-2020.

“Ik Voelde de Naald in Zijn Hartje Gaan”: Ieren Moeten Voor Abortus Naar Engeland – RTL NIEUWS. n.d. Accessed March 10, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Igj59JkiLJw.

Kolk, Thomas van der. 2012. “YouTube is belangrijk nieuwskanaal geworden.” AD.nl. July 16, 2012. https://www.ad.nl/tv-en-radio/youtube-is-belangrijk-nieuwskanaal-geworden~a452d476/.

Need, Ariana, Wouter Ultee, Mark Levels, and Marike van Tienen. 2008. “Meningen over abortus in West-Europa, 1981-2000.” Mens & Maatschappij 83 (1). https://www.rug.nl/research/portal/publications/meningen-over-abortus-in-westeuropa-19812000(7b60a36f-3115-4580-9c42-d2f7b3485a2f).html.

“NOS – YouTube.” n.d. YouTube. Accessed March 10, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5xziMuoFAOpX9mwUVhe2Jw.

“RTL Nieuws – YouTube.” n.d. YouTube. Accessed March 10, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/user/RTLNieuws.

Schilling, Terry. 2020. “At March for Life, Trump Shows He Gets the Power of Abortion Issue – CNN,” January 25, 2020. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/24/opinions/trump-speaking-at-march-for-life-schilling/index.html.

Schultes, Peter, Verena Dorner, and Franz Lehner. n.d. “Leave a Comment! An In-Depth Analysis of User Comments on YouTube”, 15.

“Stichting Kijkonderzoek.” n.d. Stichting KijkOnderzoek. Accessed March 10, 2020. https://kijkonderzoek.nl/.

Venderbosch, Maarten. 2019. “Duizenden mensen bij Mars voor het Leven in Utrecht: ‘Deze mars manipuleert jonge vrouwen’’.’” AD.nl. November 16, 2019. https://www.ad.nl/utrecht/duizenden-mensen-bij-mars-voor-het-leven-in-utrecht-deze-mars-manipuleert-jonge-vrouwen~a329e078/.

Waarom de Discussie over Abortus Weer Oplaait. n.d. Accessed March 10, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_CyskTnzzE.

Watson, Amy. 2019. “U.S. Cable News Networks: Number of Viewers October 2019,” November 4, 2019. https://www.statista.com/statistics/373814/cable-news-network-viewership-usa/.

“WVS Database.” n.d. Accessed March 10, 2020. http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/wvs.jsp.

Posted in Data Journalism 2020