House Bill 2: The Effect of Reducing Access to Abortion Providers on Educational Attainment in Texas
Swindle, Rachel E
In 2013, the Texas legislature passed House Bill 2 (H.B. 2), which required all physicians providing abortions to maintain admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles as well as mandating that facilities providing abortion be certified as ambulatory surgical centers. Over half of the abortion providers in the state closed within months of the implementation of H.B. 2, leaving only six out of 254 counties with a provider. As the abortion rate has declined in Texas and remaining providers have been unable to keep up with patient demand, this thesis builds on existing hypotheses that many patients who want an abortion are unable to do so as a result of the limitations on service availability. Further, this paper seeks to bridge the gap between access to abortion and educational attainment. I utilize a difference in differences regression of county-level data on high school graduation and drop-out rates to elucidate the effects of these closures by comparing Texas to Florida, which did not pass a law regulating abortion, before and after the implementation of H.B. 2 in late 2013. This hypothesis is supported by the difference in differences model, which suggests that the effect of H.B. 2 is associated with a decrease in graduation rates of over six percentage points and is significant at the 99.9% level. As other states consider laws that impose restrictions on or eliminate reproductive health care providers, policy makers should evaluate these laws within the context of the potential harms caused to affected communities.
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