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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 256 -- Effectiveness Of Abortion-Related Legislation.

Abortion Laws-

Some good news:

Following increases through the seventies and eighties, the number of abortions performed dropped by around 18 percent during the 1990s.

There were likely cultural forces at play in the drop. Freakonomics attributes the shift to the notion that people who would have statistically been having abortions were themselves aborted in the 1970s and early 1980s.

But what about the growing pro-life movement itself? Did it contribute to the decline? In other words, did abortion-related legislation, mostly supported by Republicans, succeed at making abortion "safe, legal, and RARE"?

While federal-level abortion measures were typically vetoed or scuttled or blocked, many states enacted peripheral laws relating to abortion:

* In 1992, virtually no states were enforcing informed consent laws. By 2000, 27 states had informed consent laws in effect.

* In 1992, no states had banned or restricted par­tial-birth abortion. By 2000, 12 states had bans or restrictions in effect.

* In 1992, only 20 states were enforcing parental involvement statutes. By 2000, 32 states were enforcing these laws.

So, a clear growth in reasonable abortion laws. Another one is the restriction of government-funded abortions through Medicaid. Some states choose to deny publicly-funded abortions except in the standard exceptions (rape, mother's life in danger, etc.).

And in those states with such laws, abortion rates were lower than in state without such laws. Duh. If a state has enough legislators willing to stand up to NOW, NARAL, and the panoply of other feminist groups, it likely indicates that such a state values life more than other states. In other words, maybe the people of a state like Minnesota (which has a surprisingly strong pro-life movement) are more anti-abortion, personally, than the people of a state like Massachusetts. Abortion laws might be more of a reflection of those existing pro-life values than an actual cause of lower abortion rates.

Well, possibly. It's a decent, logical argument, even.

But some states passed abortion-related legislation that ended up nullified, overturned by courts. Other states passed similar legislation that was not overturned by courts.

Voila, a natural experiment. Both states had voters who valued life. Some got pro-life laws. Some got judges striking pro-life laws down.

The results:


...when an informed consent law takes effect, the regres­sion model predicts that the abor­tion ratio decreases by 10.34 abortions for every thousand live births and the abortion rate decreases by 0.86 abortions per thousand women between the ages of 15 and 44. Nullified-legislation states experience increases in both the abortion rate and ratio. More important, the difference between nul­lified-legislation states and enacted-legislation states achieves statistical significance.


...when a parental involvement law is enacted, the abortion rate decreases by 16.37 abortions for every thou­sand live births and the abortion rate decreases by 1.15 abortions for every thousand women between the ages of 15 to 44. Parental involvement laws that are passed by a legislature and then later nullified by the judiciary result in modest increases in the abortion rate and a modest decline in the abortion ratio.



...other types of legislation, including Med­icaid funding restrictions and partial-birth abortion bans, also result in reductions in the incidence of abortion. However, in these cases, comparisons between enacted-legislation states and nullified-legislation states cannot be drawn because no instance of judicial nullifications of Medicaid fund­ing restrictions could be identified. Furthermore, since the judicial nullifications of partial-birth abortion bans took place in the late 1990s, there are insufficient data to draw proper comparisons.

Interestingly, Medicaid funding restrictions are the most powerful component in deterring abortion, even moreso than being Asian-American (Asian-Americans just don't have many abortions, so that's seriously a big deal).

The Heritage Foundation.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Growing Tax Code.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 February 2006 05:32 PM