Panel: Reproductive Policy: From Roe to Plan B

Thursday, November 8, 2012: 1:15 PM-2:45 PM
International B (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizers:  Ted Joyce, Baruch College, City University of New York
Moderators:  Kerri Raissian, Syracuse University and Lenisa V. Chang, University of Cincinnati
Chairs:  Jessica Vistnes, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Marginal changes in reproductive policy are difficult to assess. They often lack power either because the policies affect only a small group such as minors, or they affect many women but have relatively small impacts. And yet policies related to abortion and contraception are extremely controversial, prone to hyperbolic claims, and thus in need of rigorous analysis. The papers in this session exploit dramatic changes in reproductive policy that shed light on the basic question of whether changes in the cost of fertility control affect reproductive choices and outcomes. The current presidential campaign has once again made abortion and contraception key social issues. The first two papers return to the years before and after the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. The first by Caitlin Knowles Myers, “Power of the pill or power of abortion? Re-examining the effects of young women’s access to reproductive control,” challenges the conclusions of a growing body of literature loosely entitled, the power of the pill. Myers shows that it was access to legalized abortion and not the pill that caused delays in first births and marriage in early 1970s. The second paper by Ted Joyce, Ruoding Tan and Yuxiu Zhang entitled, “Back to the Future: Abortion Before and After Roe,” uses re-discovered data on abortions performed in New York in the years before Roe to document the remarkable number of women who travelled to New York for an abortion in the pre-Roe era. The authors use these data to estimate the impact overturning Roe and returning jurisdiction over abortion to the states. They estimate that abortion rates would fall 16 percent and birth rates would rise by 4 percent if regulation of abortion was returned to the states. The third paper by Danielle Atkins and W. David Bradford is entitled, “Association between Increased Emergency Contraception Availability and Risky Sexual Practices. They analyze the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Plan B, an emergency contraceptive (EC) pill, for over-the-counter sale to individuals 18 years and older in 2006 on sexual activity, multiple partners and potential exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. They find multi-directional effects, with increased access to EC reducing the likelihood of multiple partners, but increasing the likelihood for unprotected – potentially unplanned – encounters conditional on multiple partnership. The last paper by Emilia Simeonova and Andreas Madestam entitled “Children of the Pill: The Effect of Subsidizing Oral Contraceptives on Children’s Health and Wellbeing” utilizes a series of social experiments combined with registry data from Sweden to identify the effects of oral contraceptive subsidies on fertility, abortion, and the health and economic outcomes of women and children. The experiments took place between 1989 and 1998 in different Swedish municipalities, and involved various levels of discounts for pill purchases that affected women of different age groups. The authors find strong positive long-term effects on the economic outcomes of women from affected cohorts as well as the health and education outcomes of children eventually born to these women.

“Power of the Pill or Power of Abortion?
Caitlin Knowles Myers, Middlebury College

Back to the Future? Abortion Before & After Roe
Ted Joyce, Baruch College, City University of New York, Ruoding Tan, Graduate Center, CUNY and Yuxiu Zhang, Yale University

Children of the Pill: The Effect of Subsidizing Oral Contraceptives On Children's Health and Wellbeing
Emilia Simeonova, Princeton University and Andreas Madestam, Stockholm University

Association Between Increased Emergency Contraception Availability and Risky Sexual Practices
Danielle Atkins and W. David Bradford, University of Georgia

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