The Corner

Law & the Courts

Yes, Abortion Restrictions Can Reduce Abortion Rates

Over on the homepage, Kyle Blanchette has an excellent piece debunking the notion that abortion laws are ineffective — i.e., that they fail even to reduce abortion rates, and instead replace safe abortions with unsafe ones in “back alleys.” He points out methodological flaws in the research used to make this claim and highlights other, more rigorous studies that contradict it.

As if on cue, the National Bureau of Economic Research has a new one for the pile:

We conduct a comprehensive analysis of the effect of parental involvement (PI)
laws on the incidence of abortions to minors across a span of nearly three decades. . . . We find that, on average, PI laws enacted before the mid-1990s are associated with a 15% to 20% reduction in minor abortions. PI laws enacted after this time are not, on average, associated with declines in abortions to minors.

Of course, it’s alarming (to pro-lifers) that these laws have been less effective in states that have passed them more recently. Unfortunately, the researchers weren’t able to tease out exactly why this happened, but they do float some ideas for further research: “One possibility is . . . differential changes in the composition of teens at risk of abortion due to differences in the use of contraceptive technology, access to medication abortion and to changes in parent-child relationships. Differences in the availability of judicial and physician bypass may also play an important role in some settings.”

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