Poster Paper: The Relationship Between State-Level Policies Restricting Abortion and State-Level Abortion Rates

Friday, November 4, 2016
Columbia Ballroom (Washington Hilton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Danielle Atkins, University of Tennessee, Vicky Wilkins, American University and Daniel L. Fay, Florida State University

From 2011-2013, states enacted 205 abortion restrictions, compared to 189 that were enacted from 2001-2010. Given this recent increase in abortion restrictions, understanding the relationship between these policies and women’s access to abortion is an important public policy and public health question. We study the effect of enacting waiting periods on abortion rates and traveling to obtain an abortion from 1994-2010. We used state policy data from NARAL and the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI). Abortion data were from two sources: 1) CDC Abortion Surveillance reports from 1994-2010; and 2) AGI reports for available years from 1994-2010. Our outcome variables included; 1) abortion rate by state of occurrence from AGI and 2) percent of abortions to out of state residents from the CDC. We controlled for other state-level abortion policies, border state policies, Medicaid family planning waivers, state-level demographic, political, and socioeconomic variables, state fixed effects, and year fixed effects. We used a natural experiment design to study the effect of waiting period policy changes on abortion rates. Using a difference-in-difference estimator with state year dyads, we compared pre- and post-policy changes in outcomes for states that enacted a waiting period to states with no waiting period policy. We found that waiting period policies reduce the percentage of abortions to out-of-state residents, and that as border states provide more access to abortion through reductions in the percentage of border states with waiting periods, abortions and abortions to out-of-state residents in the non-border state decrease.