State Restrictions Reduce Abortion Rates
Special Report - April 1, 2011
A new study provides compelling evidence that laws aimed at restricting access to abortion result in significantly lower abortion rates for the states that enforce them. The study, “Analyzing the Effects of Anti-Abortion U.S. State Legislation in the Post Casey Era,” was conducted by Michael New, Ph.d., associate professor of political science at the University of Alabama, and published in the journal, State Politics and Policy Quarterly. Dr. New examined abortion data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Guttmacher Institute from nearly every state between 1985 and 2005. His research focused on the impact of abortion funding restrictions in Medicaid, parental involvement laws for minors seeking abortions, and informed consent laws.
The study shows that the number of legal abortions in the United States declined by about 22 percent between 1990 and 2005. “A number of different reasons for this decline are possible,” the study notes. “However, one factor that played a role was the increased amount of anti-abortion legislation that was passed at the state level.” According to the study, “a comprehensive series of regressions provides evidence that these laws are correlated with declines in in-state abortion rates and ratios.”
Specifically, the study found that abortion funding restrictions in Medicaid reduced the abortion rate by between eight and nine percent. Based on CDC abortion data, the study found that “the passage of an informed consent law reduces the abortion ratio by 10.04 and the abortion rate by 0.74.” Using abortion data from the Guttmacher Institute, the study found that “informed consent laws have an even greater effect, reducing the abortion ratio by 16.71 and the abortion rate by 1.10.”
Dr. New’s study also examined the impact of parental involvement laws, which were defined in the study as laws that “require that minors either receive permission from or notify one or both parents before obtaining an abortion.” The study found that parental involvement laws, such as North Carolina’s parental consent law, reduced a state’s minor abortion rate by approximately 15 percent.
North Carolina is one of 36 states with parental involvement laws on the books. Enacted in 1995, North Carolina’s law requires abortion providers to obtain written consent from the minor and one of the minor’s parents, a legal guardian or other legally qualified individual before performing an abortion on the minor. The law includes a provision allowing a minor to seek a judicial waiver of the parental consent requirement. Over the years, numerous bills have been introduced to strengthen the law by requiring the parental consent to be notarized or having a parent or guardian accompany the minor to the clinic or hospital, but to date, none of these bills have been considered.
A 2008 analysis of state abortion laws conducted by Dr. New for the Family Research Council (FRC) found that state parental involvement laws contributed to the nearly 50 percent decrease in abortions performed on minors between 1985 and 1999. That study found that the teenage abortion rate decreases by about 13.6 percent when a state enacts a parental involvement law, with a larger decline in states that require parental consent or two-parent involvement.
“Dr. Michael New’s [latest] research tells us that parental involvement laws more effectively get parents involved in their kids' lives, and reduce the number of abortions,” said Family Research Council president, Tony Perkins, in a statement. “Almost invariably it is a parent, not a government employee or business entity, who cares most about a daughter's well-being. Politicians can talk about 'reducing abortion rates,' but if they truly want to do so they will support parental-involvement legislation and defund such organizations as Planned Parenthood that perform or promote abortions.”
An Aversion to Life - FNC- Winter 2011
Pro-Life Legislation Enacted Elsewhere - September 28, 2009
Parental Involvement Laws Reduce APM - September 24, 2008
Abortion Decreasing, Especially Among Teens - September 26, 2008
North Carolina's "Life" Laws - FNC - January/February 2008
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