Advocacy, abortion and public policy : towards a better understanding of the determinants of abortion in the aggregate
Childress, John Daniel.
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. This paper examines the effect of restrictive public policies on aggregate abortion rates controlling for the role of both pro-choice and pro-life advocacy organizations. While multiple studies examine the effect of public policy on aggregate abortion incidence, none control for the role of advocates. My research, employing data from 1991-2004, and controlling for multiple sources of endogeneity, empirically demonstrates findings that differ for women according to the point in pregnancy at which restrictive public policies are implemented. Simply enacting, not implementing, informed consent laws results in a significant decline in aggregate abortion rates for women late in pregnancy. Yet, there is no independent effect of enforcing the law itself. On the other hand, when women are exposed to parental consent laws early in pregnancy, I detect a significant and negative effect on aggregate abortion rates attributable to enforcing the law. In neither case do advocates have an independent effect on aggregate abortion rates, although they do dampen the impact of enforcing restrictive policies early in pregnancy. My findings suggest a narrative in which restrictive abortion policy acts as a signal of cultural changes that decrease aggregate abortion rates. The law itself affects behavior only for women who interact with the policy early in pregnancy. By adding advocates to the current models, my findings demonstrate more robust conclusions than the current literature and suggest multiple implications for both policymakers and researchers alike.