Master post: 21+ week abortions usually aren’t medically necessary

Despite conventional wisdom, there’s zero quantifiable data to support the idea that all or even most late-term abortions are medically necessary.

Defining our terms.

First, the phrase “late-term abortion” is ill-defined. We’ve had past posts where we were including anything after the first trimester, but to be more conservative, this post is only for abortions performed at 21 weeks or later. [Update 2/8/20: some complain the term “late-term abortion” is not a medical term and/or is made up by pro-lifers. See this thread for examples of abortion providers, Guttmacher, and the media using the phrase “late-term abortion” over the years.]

Second, when we say “medically necessary” we’re referring to abortions where the reasons cited were risk to the woman’s life, risk to the woman’s health, or fetal abnormalities.

Objections to the “medically necessary” definition.

We understand that many pro-life people object to characterizing some or all of these situations as “medically necessary abortions.” Some people don’t consider a procedure that destroys a fetus an “abortion” if the procedure is done to save the woman’s life. Some don’t believe there are any scenarios where a woman’s life or health is better protected by late-term abortion than by induction of labor or c-section. Some view abortion due to fetal abnormalities as a type of involuntary euthanasia, not medically necessary to the woman and not clearly in the best interest of the fetus. Some especially object to calling abortions “medically necessary” for fetal abnormalities because not all such fetal abnormalities are life-threatening to the fetus (possibly the most controversial example being the very high rate of abortion when the fetus has Down syndrome).

SPL recognizes some relevant points here (scroll down to “Further Reading” for more thoughts on these subjects). But for this blog post, we leave all that aside. Here we’re not debating whether and when abortion is justified for maternal health and life or for fetal abnormalities. We’re demonstrating that even if you believe all of these reasons constitute medically necessary abortions, most late-term abortions are still not medically necessary.

In reality, most women seek 21+ week abortions for non-medical reasons, such as:

  • Not realizing sooner that they were pregnant, 
  • Struggling to find the time and money for later abortion procedures (which are more complicated and expensive than earlier procedures), and 
  • Difficulty deciding whether they wanted to continue carrying the pregnancy.
Here is a list of further resources, including data and studies, interviews of abortion providers and other pro-choice sources, and interviews of women who obtained non-medical late-term abortions.

Data and studies:

1. More evidence that most late-term abortions are elective – Arizona state data over several years showed ~80% of 21+ week abortions were not for maternal or fetal health issues.

[The above link summarizes the AZ data, but go here to see exactly which Arizona reports and which tables in those reports we referenced to get this info.]

2. Clinton Off on Late-Term Abortions FactCheck.Org, September 29, 2015.

“A spokesman for Clinton’s campaign told us that she meant that many late-term abortions — not all or even most — are because of medical reasons. But that’s not what she said. Her statement left the impression that the majority, if not all, late-term abortions are medically necessary. The available evidence does not support that assertion.”

3. Who seeks abortions at or after 20 weeks? Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2013.

“Data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.”

4. An answer to pro-choicers on Kermit Gosnell. Slate, January 24, 2011. Pro-choice author Will Saletan outlines quite a bit of research suggesting late-term abortions are often not for medical reasons (see parts 8 and 9 of his piece).
Interviews: 
[All emphasis added.]

1. Fake News About Abortion in Virginia. The New York Times, February 1, 2019. Frances Kissling, president of the Center for Health, Ethics and Social Policy:

“Our talking point is, most of these procedures are on women who discover abnormalities late in the pregnancy,” Kissling said. “We don’t know if that is true.

5. An Abortion Rights Advocate Says He Lied About the Procedure. New York Times, February 26, 1997.

In the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along, Mr. Fitzsimmons [Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers] said. ”The abortion-rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it, and so, probably, does everyone else.” 

3. Interview with Dr. Susan Robinson, One of the Last Four Doctors in America to Openly Provide Third-Trimester Abortions, The Hairpin, September 20, 2013. Dr. Robinson explains the women who seek third trimester abortions not for medical reasons, but because they didn’t realize they were pregnant earlier:

They think they just got pregnant. They have no idea they’re in their 24th week. So they make an appointment for an abortion, and it takes a few weeks, and they have their ultrasound and find out that they’re at 27 weeks, which is too far for an abortion anywhere. So then what happens? They either give up or have a baby, or they go on the Internet and they find us.

4. Abortion is ‘never, ever a casual decision,’ The Irish Times, September 21, 2013. Dr. Shelly Sella explains why women come to her for third trimester abortions:

The women Sella treats fall into two categories: those who discover foetal abnormalities; and those with healthy, viable babies whose maternal circumstances mean they could not cope with the baby.

He doesn’t share his clinic’s statistics and rarely speaks of individual cases, but Hern has said he also performs late abortions for women who are not facing any grave medical outcome.

6. The truth about later abortions, according to someone who actually had one. ThinkProgress, February 2, 2019. A woman obtained a $12,000 non-medical abortion around the 5.5-6 month:

I wanted an abortion because my partner wasn’t supportive and I wanted to finish my studies. And if I didn’t have enough money for me or a place, how could I have a baby, you know? So sometimes it is for our future. It’s not the right time.

7. What It Was Like To Get A Later Abortion Teen Vogue, February 8, 2019. A woman obtained a non-medical third trimester abortion because she didn’t learn she was pregnant until late in the second trimester and then struggled to find both a clinic that would perform such a late abortion and the $12,000 to cover the cost.

Despite living in Oregon, a state with one of the most progressive abortion laws in the nation, I encountered so many obstacles to accessing abortion just because of my situation [how far the pregnancy had already progressed].

8. What to Know About So-Called “Late-Term Abortion” Teen Vogue, February 12, 2019. A woman obtained a non-medical late second trimester abortion because she didn’t find out she was pregnant until she was already in her second trimester.

“Ultimately I knew I just would have no financial stability, and I also knew, too, if I were to have a child I didn’t want, I would definitely drop out of college.”

Further Reading:


Reasons for abortion after the first trimester.
 
These resources relate to women seeking abortions after the first trimester, but the information is not limited to only 21+ week abortions.

  1. Responding to 8 common pro-choice claims about late-term abortion. Secular Pro-Life Perspectives, February 1, 2019
  2. Fetal diagnostic indications for second and third trimester outpatient pregnancy termination – Prenatal Diagnosis, January 2014 (Dr. Warren Hern, who operates a clinic that performs 21+ week abortions, explains that at most 30% of his patients seek 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions for reasons of fetal abnormality.)
  3. Characteristics and Circumstances of U.S. Women Who Obtain Very Early and Second-Trimester Abortions. PLoS One, January 2017 (Study found “Timing of pregnancy recognition was the factor most strongly associated with obtaining a very early or second trimester abortion.”)
  4. No, most late-term abortions are not medically necessary Secular Pro-Life Perspectives, October 20, 2016 (Links to data for proportion of 13+ and 16+ week abortions done for medical reasons.)
  5. Attitudes and decision making among women seeking abortions at one U.S. clinic. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, June 2012. (In this study, 81% of abortions were sought in the first trimester and 1% of abortions were sought for fetal anomaly. Even assuming all of the fetal anomaly abortions were in the second trimester, it would still mean only ~5% of second trimester abortions were sought for fetal anomaly.)
  6. Later Abortions and Mental Health: Psychological Experiences of Women Having Later Abortions–A Critical Review of Research, Women’s Health Issues, February 2011. (“Research suggests that the overwhelming majority of women having later abortions do so for reasons other than fetal anomaly.”)
  7. Predictors of delay in each step leading to an abortion. Contraception, April 2008. (Study found that regardless of the gestational age at the time of the abortion, women were delayed more often by not taking a pregnancy test sooner than by delays in contacting a clinic or obtaining an abortion. “Our findings suggest that interventions which are aimed at improving women’s ability to identify a pregnancy at an earlier gestation could be helpful in facilitating women obtaining abortions earlier in their pregnancy.”)
  8. Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States. Contraception, April 2006 (Study of women obtaining second trimester abortions found the top reasons for delay were the time it took to learn they were pregnant/how far along they were, the time it took to raise money for the abortion, and the difficulty of making the decision to abort. See Table 1.)
  9. Risk Factors Associated With Presenting for Abortion in the Second Trimester Obstetrics & Gynecology, January 2006 (Study finding that later suspicion of pregnancy and delaying factors such as difficulty obtaining state insurance were major influences on obtaining second rather than first trimester abortions.)
Unsubstantiated claims about medical necessity.
Note none of these articles includes links or even citations to any quantifiable evidence.
  1. Later Abortion: A Love Story. Jezebel, February 21, 2019: “Few people get [later abortions] (only one percent of abortions happen after 21 weeks), and nearly all of the parents who do are grappling with devastating diagnoses like mine.”
  2. Hillary Clinton tweet, February 12, 2019: “Only about 1% of abortions happen later in pregnancy—almost always because a woman’s health or life is at risk, or the pregnancy is no longer viable.”
  3. Before judging ‘late-term abortion,’ understand what it means, doctors say, CNN, February 6, 2019, Dr. Barbara Levy of American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists: “Abortions later in pregnancy typically occur because of two general indications: lethal fetal anomalies or threats to the health of the mother.”
  4. What Is Late-Term Abortion? Trump Got It Wrong, New York Times, February 6, 2019. “When they occur, it is usually because the fetus has been found to have a fatal condition that could not be detected earlier, such as a severe malformation of the brain, or because the mother’s life or health is at serious risk.”
  5. What Doctors Want Politicians To Know About Abortion. Huffington Post, October 21, 2016. “Only 1.3 percent of abortions take place at or after 21 weeks, pointed out [Dr. Sarah] Horvath, and the majority are conducted because the fetus has severe birth defects.”
  6. Donald Trump confuses birth with abortion. And no, there are no ninth month abortions. Huffington Post, October 20, 2016. Dr. Jennifer Gunter: “1.3 percent of abortions happen at or after 21 weeks and 80 percent are for birth defects.”
  7. Face The Nation, CBS, September 20, 2015. Hillary Clinton: “I think that the kind of late-term abortions that take place are because of medical necessity.”
  8. Congress introduced 6 anti-abortion bills in its first 7 days, Yahoo Health, January 16, 2015. “Again, the majority of late-term abortions are performed because of tremendous dangers posed to the health of the mother.”
  9. Anti-abortionists on Trial, New York Times, July 25, 2012. “Later abortions mostly often involve severely troubled pregnancies that pose risks to a woman’s health or life.”
Objections to the “medically necessary” definition.
Late-term abortion to save a woman’s life or protect her health.

Late-term abortion for fetal abnormalities.
Late-term abortion as euthanasia.

Late-term abortion and ableism.

Master post: 21+ week abortions usually aren’t medically necessary

Despite conventional wisdom, there’s zero quantifiable data to support the idea that all or even most late-term abortions are medically necessary.

Defining our terms.

First, the phrase “late-term abortion” is ill-defined. We’ve had past posts where we were including anything after the first trimester, but to be more conservative, this post is only for abortions performed at 21 weeks or later. [Update 2/8/20: some complain the term “late-term abortion” is not a medical term and/or is made up by pro-lifers. See this thread for examples of abortion providers, Guttmacher, and the media using the phrase “late-term abortion” over the years.]

Second, when we say “medically necessary” we’re referring to abortions where the reasons cited were risk to the woman’s life, risk to the woman’s health, or fetal abnormalities.

Objections to the “medically necessary” definition.

We understand that many pro-life people object to characterizing some or all of these situations as “medically necessary abortions.” Some people don’t consider a procedure that destroys a fetus an “abortion” if the procedure is done to save the woman’s life. Some don’t believe there are any scenarios where a woman’s life or health is better protected by late-term abortion than by induction of labor or c-section. Some view abortion due to fetal abnormalities as a type of involuntary euthanasia, not medically necessary to the woman and not clearly in the best interest of the fetus. Some especially object to calling abortions “medically necessary” for fetal abnormalities because not all such fetal abnormalities are life-threatening to the fetus (possibly the most controversial example being the very high rate of abortion when the fetus has Down syndrome).

SPL recognizes some relevant points here (scroll down to “Further Reading” for more thoughts on these subjects). But for this blog post, we leave all that aside. Here we’re not debating whether and when abortion is justified for maternal health and life or for fetal abnormalities. We’re demonstrating that even if you believe all of these reasons constitute medically necessary abortions, most late-term abortions are still not medically necessary.

In reality, most women seek 21+ week abortions for non-medical reasons, such as:

  • Not realizing sooner that they were pregnant, 
  • Struggling to find the time and money for later abortion procedures (which are more complicated and expensive than earlier procedures), and 
  • Difficulty deciding whether they wanted to continue carrying the pregnancy.
Here is a list of further resources, including data and studies, interviews of abortion providers and other pro-choice sources, and interviews of women who obtained non-medical late-term abortions.

Data and studies:

1. More evidence that most late-term abortions are elective – Arizona state data over several years showed ~80% of 21+ week abortions were not for maternal or fetal health issues.

[The above link summarizes the AZ data, but go here to see exactly which Arizona reports and which tables in those reports we referenced to get this info.]

2. Clinton Off on Late-Term Abortions FactCheck.Org, September 29, 2015.

“A spokesman for Clinton’s campaign told us that she meant that many late-term abortions — not all or even most — are because of medical reasons. But that’s not what she said. Her statement left the impression that the majority, if not all, late-term abortions are medically necessary. The available evidence does not support that assertion.”

3. Who seeks abortions at or after 20 weeks? Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2013.

“Data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.”

4. An answer to pro-choicers on Kermit Gosnell. Slate, January 24, 2011. Pro-choice author Will Saletan outlines quite a bit of research suggesting late-term abortions are often not for medical reasons (see parts 8 and 9 of his piece).
Interviews: 
[All emphasis added.]

1. Fake News About Abortion in Virginia. The New York Times, February 1, 2019. Frances Kissling, president of the Center for Health, Ethics and Social Policy:

“Our talking point is, most of these procedures are on women who discover abnormalities late in the pregnancy,” Kissling said. “We don’t know if that is true.

5. An Abortion Rights Advocate Says He Lied About the Procedure. New York Times, February 26, 1997.

In the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along, Mr. Fitzsimmons [Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers] said. ”The abortion-rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it, and so, probably, does everyone else.” 

3. Interview with Dr. Susan Robinson, One of the Last Four Doctors in America to Openly Provide Third-Trimester Abortions, The Hairpin, September 20, 2013. Dr. Robinson explains the women who seek third trimester abortions not for medical reasons, but because they didn’t realize they were pregnant earlier:

They think they just got pregnant. They have no idea they’re in their 24th week. So they make an appointment for an abortion, and it takes a few weeks, and they have their ultrasound and find out that they’re at 27 weeks, which is too far for an abortion anywhere. So then what happens? They either give up or have a baby, or they go on the Internet and they find us.

4. Abortion is ‘never, ever a casual decision,’ The Irish Times, September 21, 2013. Dr. Shelly Sella explains why women come to her for third trimester abortions:

The women Sella treats fall into two categories: those who discover foetal abnormalities; and those with healthy, viable babies whose maternal circumstances mean they could not cope with the baby.

He doesn’t share his clinic’s statistics and rarely speaks of individual cases, but Hern has said he also performs late abortions for women who are not facing any grave medical outcome.

6. The truth about later abortions, according to someone who actually had one. ThinkProgress, February 2, 2019. A woman obtained a $12,000 non-medical abortion around the 5.5-6 month:

I wanted an abortion because my partner wasn’t supportive and I wanted to finish my studies. And if I didn’t have enough money for me or a place, how could I have a baby, you know? So sometimes it is for our future. It’s not the right time.

7. What It Was Like To Get A Later Abortion Teen Vogue, February 8, 2019. A woman obtained a non-medical third trimester abortion because she didn’t learn she was pregnant until late in the second trimester and then struggled to find both a clinic that would perform such a late abortion and the $12,000 to cover the cost.

Despite living in Oregon, a state with one of the most progressive abortion laws in the nation, I encountered so many obstacles to accessing abortion just because of my situation [how far the pregnancy had already progressed].

8. What to Know About So-Called “Late-Term Abortion” Teen Vogue, February 12, 2019. A woman obtained a non-medical late second trimester abortion because she didn’t find out she was pregnant until she was already in her second trimester.

“Ultimately I knew I just would have no financial stability, and I also knew, too, if I were to have a child I didn’t want, I would definitely drop out of college.”

Further Reading:


Reasons for abortion after the first trimester.
 
These resources relate to women seeking abortions after the first trimester, but the information is not limited to only 21+ week abortions.

  1. Responding to 8 common pro-choice claims about late-term abortion. Secular Pro-Life Perspectives, February 1, 2019
  2. Fetal diagnostic indications for second and third trimester outpatient pregnancy termination – Prenatal Diagnosis, January 2014 (Dr. Warren Hern, who operates a clinic that performs 21+ week abortions, explains that at most 30% of his patients seek 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions for reasons of fetal abnormality.)
  3. Characteristics and Circumstances of U.S. Women Who Obtain Very Early and Second-Trimester Abortions. PLoS One, January 2017 (Study found “Timing of pregnancy recognition was the factor most strongly associated with obtaining a very early or second trimester abortion.”)
  4. No, most late-term abortions are not medically necessary Secular Pro-Life Perspectives, October 20, 2016 (Links to data for proportion of 13+ and 16+ week abortions done for medical reasons.)
  5. Attitudes and decision making among women seeking abortions at one U.S. clinic. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, June 2012. (In this study, 81% of abortions were sought in the first trimester and 1% of abortions were sought for fetal anomaly. Even assuming all of the fetal anomaly abortions were in the second trimester, it would still mean only ~5% of second trimester abortions were sought for fetal anomaly.)
  6. Later Abortions and Mental Health: Psychological Experiences of Women Having Later Abortions–A Critical Review of Research, Women’s Health Issues, February 2011. (“Research suggests that the overwhelming majority of women having later abortions do so for reasons other than fetal anomaly.”)
  7. Predictors of delay in each step leading to an abortion. Contraception, April 2008. (Study found that regardless of the gestational age at the time of the abortion, women were delayed more often by not taking a pregnancy test sooner than by delays in contacting a clinic or obtaining an abortion. “Our findings suggest that interventions which are aimed at improving women’s ability to identify a pregnancy at an earlier gestation could be helpful in facilitating women obtaining abortions earlier in their pregnancy.”)
  8. Timing of steps and reasons for delays in obtaining abortions in the United States. Contraception, April 2006 (Study of women obtaining second trimester abortions found the top reasons for delay were the time it took to learn they were pregnant/how far along they were, the time it took to raise money for the abortion, and the difficulty of making the decision to abort. See Table 1.)
  9. Risk Factors Associated With Presenting for Abortion in the Second Trimester Obstetrics & Gynecology, January 2006 (Study finding that later suspicion of pregnancy and delaying factors such as difficulty obtaining state insurance were major influences on obtaining second rather than first trimester abortions.)
Unsubstantiated claims about medical necessity.
Note none of these articles includes links or even citations to any quantifiable evidence.
  1. Later Abortion: A Love Story. Jezebel, February 21, 2019: “Few people get [later abortions] (only one percent of abortions happen after 21 weeks), and nearly all of the parents who do are grappling with devastating diagnoses like mine.”
  2. Hillary Clinton tweet, February 12, 2019: “Only about 1% of abortions happen later in pregnancy—almost always because a woman’s health or life is at risk, or the pregnancy is no longer viable.”
  3. Before judging ‘late-term abortion,’ understand what it means, doctors say, CNN, February 6, 2019, Dr. Barbara Levy of American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists: “Abortions later in pregnancy typically occur because of two general indications: lethal fetal anomalies or threats to the health of the mother.”
  4. What Is Late-Term Abortion? Trump Got It Wrong, New York Times, February 6, 2019. “When they occur, it is usually because the fetus has been found to have a fatal condition that could not be detected earlier, such as a severe malformation of the brain, or because the mother’s life or health is at serious risk.”
  5. What Doctors Want Politicians To Know About Abortion. Huffington Post, October 21, 2016. “Only 1.3 percent of abortions take place at or after 21 weeks, pointed out [Dr. Sarah] Horvath, and the majority are conducted because the fetus has severe birth defects.”
  6. Donald Trump confuses birth with abortion. And no, there are no ninth month abortions. Huffington Post, October 20, 2016. Dr. Jennifer Gunter: “1.3 percent of abortions happen at or after 21 weeks and 80 percent are for birth defects.”
  7. Face The Nation, CBS, September 20, 2015. Hillary Clinton: “I think that the kind of late-term abortions that take place are because of medical necessity.”
  8. Congress introduced 6 anti-abortion bills in its first 7 days, Yahoo Health, January 16, 2015. “Again, the majority of late-term abortions are performed because of tremendous dangers posed to the health of the mother.”
  9. Anti-abortionists on Trial, New York Times, July 25, 2012. “Later abortions mostly often involve severely troubled pregnancies that pose risks to a woman’s health or life.”
Objections to the “medically necessary” definition.
Late-term abortion to save a woman’s life or protect her health.

Late-term abortion for fetal abnormalities.
Late-term abortion as euthanasia.

Late-term abortion and ableism.

Link collection: Evidence that pro-life laws mean fewer unplanned pregnancies.

Pro-life laws decrease abortion in two ways. The direct and more obvious way is by decreasing the number of pregnant women who get abortions. A wide body of research (part 1, part 2) demonstrates that when abortion is restricted abortion rates go down and birth rates go up.

But pro-life laws also decrease abortion in an indirect way: by decreasing unintended pregnancies. The idea is that people perceive abortion as an insurance policy. As Donahue & Levitt explain:

The decline in births is far less than the number of abortions, suggesting that the number of conceptions increased substantially—an example of insurance leading to moral hazard. The insurance that abortion provides against unwanted pregnancy induces more sexual conduct or diminished protections against pregnancy in a way that substantially increases the number of pregnancies.

If people know that in the event of unplanned pregnancy they can always get abortions, they’re more likely to engage in risky sex.

There’s quite a lot of research to suggest this is true. Liberalized abortion policy has been associated with increased STD rates, decreased use of effective contraception, and the aforementioned increase in unintended pregnancies. Below, in chronological order, are studies that found these and other similar results.

***

“An analysis of 12 years of state-level data indicate that restrictions are associated with a reduction in abortions and either no change or a reduction in births, implying fewer pregnancies.” The Effect of Medicaid Abortion Funding Restrictions on Abortions, Pregnancies, and Births, Journal of Health Economics, October 1996

“In particular, the results suggest that residents in counties with longer travel distances to the nearest abortion provider have lower abortion rates and lower pregnancy rates.” The impact of provider availability on abortion demand, Contemporary Economic Policy, April 1996

“We find that countries which changed from very restrictive to liberal abortion laws experienced a large reduction in births, highlighting the insurance value. Changes from modest restrictions to abortion available upon request, however, led to no such change in births despite large increases in abortions, indicating that pregnancies rose as well.” Abortion as Insurance, National Bureau of Economic Research, February 2002

“We find that gonorrhea and syphilis incidences are significantly and positively correlated with abortion legalization. Further, we find a divergence in STD rates among early legalizing states and late legalizing states starting in 1970 and a subsequent convergence after the Roe v. Wade decision, indicating that the relation between STDs and abortion is causal.” The effect of abortion legalization on sexual behavior: evidence from sexually transmitted diseases. The Journal of Legal Studies, June 2003

“Parental involvement laws resulted in fewer abortions for minors resulting from fewer pregnancies; there is no statistically significant impact on births. The reduction in pregnancy seems to be attributable to increased use of contraception rather than a reduction in sexual activity.” Parental involvement laws and fertility behavior. Journal of Health Economics, September 2003

“Legalization itself is found to reduce the number of unwanted births. Beyond that, imposing moderate abortion restrictions do not appear to significantly increase unwanted births; abortions and pregnancies decline instead.” Abortion Policy and the Economics of Fertility, Society, May 2004

“First, the availability of abortion providers has the expected effect of reducing the supply of infants relinquished, particularly relative to the demand for abortion. Second, abortion law has an unexpected negative effect. This suggests that as abortion laws become more restrictive the total number of unwanted births may decrease.” The supply of infants relinquished for adoption: Did access to abortion make a difference? Economic Inquiry, July 2007

“Our results indicate that the enactment of parental involvement laws significantly reduces risky sexual activity among teenage girls.” Abortion Access and Risky Sex Among Teens: Parental Involvement Laws and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 2008

“Taken together the empirical results are consistent with the hypothesis that women’s sexual behavior is influenced by the direct and indirect cost of obtaining an abortion.” Abortion costs, sexual behavior, and pregnancy rates, The Social Science Jounral, March 2008

“We find restrictions on abortion availability (through abortion legislation mandating parental consent or notification) induce women to utilize birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancies, while pro-choice sentiments in the legislature may have the opposite effect.” Variation in Pill Use: Do Abortion Laws Matter? International Journal of Business and Social Science, September 2011

“A state’s antiabortion attitudes, which likely contribute to the enactment of restrictive abortion laws in a state, are a major factor in inducing greater use of highly effective contraceptive methods by adult women at-risk of an unintended pregnancy.” Restrictive abortion laws, antiabortion attitudes and women’s contraceptive use, Social Science Research, January 2012

“While county‐level access to emergency contraception was unrelated to trends in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and abortions before access changed, access afterwards led to a statistically significant increase in STD rates (gonorrhea rates), both overall and for females. We do not find, however, an impact of pharmacy access on abortion or birth rates.” The effects of increased access to emergency contraception on sexually transmitted disease and abortion rates, Economic Inquiry, December 2012 (Note: This study was not examining abortion policy as related to pregnancy. It is a similar study examining how the availability of emergency conctraception was associated with increases in STDs. Like with abortion, emergency contraception may decrease the perceived risk of sex and so increase the instances of less protected sex.)


“Fewer abortion providers increase the likelihood of women using the pill.” Utilization of oral contraception: The impact of direct and indirect restrictions on access to abortion, The Social Science Journal, March 2014

“We find that providing individuals with over‐the‐counter access to EBC leads to increase STD rates and has no effect on abortion rates.” Access to Emergency Contraception and its Impact on Fertility and Sexual Behavior, Health Economics, February 2015 (Note: Like the Economic Inquiry study above, this study is not examining abortion policy and pregnancy, but it demonstrates a similar phenomenon wherein people make riskier sexual decisions when they have an ‘insurance’ policy available such as emergency contraception.),

“Our findings reveal that restrictions on abortion funding have a significant and positive impact on a woman’s decision to use the pill.” The Role of Restrictive Abortion Legislation in Explaining Variation in Oral Contraceptive Use, Clinics in Mother and Child Health, October 2015

“Similarly, women in states characterized by high abortion hostility (i.e., states with four or more types of restrictive policies in place) were more likely to use highly effective [contraceptive] methods than were women in states with less hostility.” State Abortion Context and U.S. Women’s Contraceptive Choices, 1995–2010, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, June 2015

“We find evidence to suggest that [Parental Involvement] laws are associated with an increase in the probability that sexually active minor teen females use birth control.” The effect of parental involvement laws on teen birth control use. Journal of Health Economics, January 2016

Further reading: This article from The Cut illustrates the thought process that can connect unplanned pregnancy rates and abortion availability. In this case, the woman is clearly educated about reproduction and she has knowledge of and access to contraception, but she is not as careful as she may otherwise have been partly because she knows she can get an abortion if need be.

I knew that the time I was sloppy with protection right before ovulation would put me at risk for getting pregnant. I’m the kind of woman who learns about fertility for fun, who genuinely enjoys reading about cervical fluid, egg freezing, and progesterone spikes. Which is why I knew I should have taken Plan B after that slipup and was hard on myself when I didn’t. But I also knew that if an unplanned pregnancy did occur, I’d have options in New York City.

Link collection: Evidence that pro-life laws mean fewer unplanned pregnancies.

Pro-life laws decrease abortion in two ways. The direct and more obvious way is by decreasing the number of pregnant women who get abortions. A wide body of research (part 1, part 2) demonstrates that when abortion is restricted abortion rates go down and birth rates go up.

But pro-life laws also decrease abortion in an indirect way: by decreasing unintended pregnancies. The idea is that people perceive abortion as an insurance policy. As Donahue & Levitt explain:

The decline in births is far less than the number of abortions, suggesting that the number of conceptions increased substantially—an example of insurance leading to moral hazard. The insurance that abortion provides against unwanted pregnancy induces more sexual conduct or diminished protections against pregnancy in a way that substantially increases the number of pregnancies.

If people know that in the event of unplanned pregnancy they can always get abortions, they’re more likely to engage in risky sex.

There’s quite a lot of research to suggest this is true. Liberalized abortion policy has been associated with increased STD rates, decreased use of effective contraception, and the aforementioned increase in unintended pregnancies. Below, in chronological order, are studies that found these and other similar results.

***

“An analysis of 12 years of state-level data indicate that restrictions are associated with a reduction in abortions and either no change or a reduction in births, implying fewer pregnancies.” The Effect of Medicaid Abortion Funding Restrictions on Abortions, Pregnancies, and Births, Journal of Health Economics, October 1996

“In particular, the results suggest that residents in counties with longer travel distances to the nearest abortion provider have lower abortion rates and lower pregnancy rates.” The impact of provider availability on abortion demand, Contemporary Economic Policy, April 1996

“We find that countries which changed from very restrictive to liberal abortion laws experienced a large reduction in births, highlighting the insurance value. Changes from modest restrictions to abortion available upon request, however, led to no such change in births despite large increases in abortions, indicating that pregnancies rose as well.” Abortion as Insurance, National Bureau of Economic Research, February 2002

“We find that gonorrhea and syphilis incidences are significantly and positively correlated with abortion legalization. Further, we find a divergence in STD rates among early legalizing states and late legalizing states starting in 1970 and a subsequent convergence after the Roe v. Wade decision, indicating that the relation between STDs and abortion is causal.” The effect of abortion legalization on sexual behavior: evidence from sexually transmitted diseases. The Journal of Legal Studies, June 2003

“Parental involvement laws resulted in fewer abortions for minors resulting from fewer pregnancies; there is no statistically significant impact on births. The reduction in pregnancy seems to be attributable to increased use of contraception rather than a reduction in sexual activity.” Parental involvement laws and fertility behavior. Journal of Health Economics, September 2003

“Legalization itself is found to reduce the number of unwanted births. Beyond that, imposing moderate abortion restrictions do not appear to significantly increase unwanted births; abortions and pregnancies decline instead.” Abortion Policy and the Economics of Fertility, Society, May 2004

“First, the availability of abortion providers has the expected effect of reducing the supply of infants relinquished, particularly relative to the demand for abortion. Second, abortion law has an unexpected negative effect. This suggests that as abortion laws become more restrictive the total number of unwanted births may decrease.” The supply of infants relinquished for adoption: Did access to abortion make a difference? Economic Inquiry, July 2007

“Our results indicate that the enactment of parental involvement laws significantly reduces risky sexual activity among teenage girls.” Abortion Access and Risky Sex Among Teens: Parental Involvement Laws and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 2008

“Taken together the empirical results are consistent with the hypothesis that women’s sexual behavior is influenced by the direct and indirect cost of obtaining an abortion.” Abortion costs, sexual behavior, and pregnancy rates, The Social Science Jounral, March 2008

“We find restrictions on abortion availability (through abortion legislation mandating parental consent or notification) induce women to utilize birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancies, while pro-choice sentiments in the legislature may have the opposite effect.” Variation in Pill Use: Do Abortion Laws Matter? International Journal of Business and Social Science, September 2011

“A state’s antiabortion attitudes, which likely contribute to the enactment of restrictive abortion laws in a state, are a major factor in inducing greater use of highly effective contraceptive methods by adult women at-risk of an unintended pregnancy.” Restrictive abortion laws, antiabortion attitudes and women’s contraceptive use, Social Science Research, January 2012

“While county‐level access to emergency contraception was unrelated to trends in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and abortions before access changed, access afterwards led to a statistically significant increase in STD rates (gonorrhea rates), both overall and for females. We do not find, however, an impact of pharmacy access on abortion or birth rates.” The effects of increased access to emergency contraception on sexually transmitted disease and abortion rates, Economic Inquiry, December 2012 (Note: This study was not examining abortion policy as related to pregnancy. It is a similar study examining how the availability of emergency conctraception was associated with increases in STDs. Like with abortion, emergency contraception may decrease the perceived risk of sex and so increase the instances of less protected sex.)


“Fewer abortion providers increase the likelihood of women using the pill.” Utilization of oral contraception: The impact of direct and indirect restrictions on access to abortion, The Social Science Journal, March 2014

“We find that providing individuals with over‐the‐counter access to EBC leads to increase STD rates and has no effect on abortion rates.” Access to Emergency Contraception and its Impact on Fertility and Sexual Behavior, Health Economics, February 2015 (Note: Like the Economic Inquiry study above, this study is not examining abortion policy and pregnancy, but it demonstrates a similar phenomenon wherein people make riskier sexual decisions when they have an ‘insurance’ policy available such as emergency contraception.),

“Our findings reveal that restrictions on abortion funding have a significant and positive impact on a woman’s decision to use the pill.” The Role of Restrictive Abortion Legislation in Explaining Variation in Oral Contraceptive Use, Clinics in Mother and Child Health, October 2015

“Similarly, women in states characterized by high abortion hostility (i.e., states with four or more types of restrictive policies in place) were more likely to use highly effective [contraceptive] methods than were women in states with less hostility.” State Abortion Context and U.S. Women’s Contraceptive Choices, 1995–2010, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, June 2015

“We find evidence to suggest that [Parental Involvement] laws are associated with an increase in the probability that sexually active minor teen females use birth control.” The effect of parental involvement laws on teen birth control use. Journal of Health Economics, January 2016

Further reading: This article from The Cut illustrates the thought process that can connect unplanned pregnancy rates and abortion availability. In this case, the woman is clearly educated about reproduction and she has knowledge of and access to contraception, but she is not as careful as she may otherwise have been partly because she knows she can get an abortion if need be.

I knew that the time I was sloppy with protection right before ovulation would put me at risk for getting pregnant. I’m the kind of woman who learns about fertility for fun, who genuinely enjoys reading about cervical fluid, egg freezing, and progesterone spikes. Which is why I knew I should have taken Plan B after that slipup and was hard on myself when I didn’t. But I also knew that if an unplanned pregnancy did occur, I’d have options in New York City.

More evidence that abortion restrictions decrease abortion rates.

As a follow up to our previous post (Pro-life laws stop abortions. Here’s the evidence.) here in chronological order are more studies suggesting that abortion restrictions do decrease abortion—and not just legal abortion, but abortion in general. Note how many of the studies focus on how abortion policy affects birth rates rather than only the abortion rate itself.

“If all states observed the Hyde Amendment restrictions, many thousands of Medicaid-eligible women who would have obtained abortions under the 1977 funding policy would not receive them.” The impact of restricting Medicaid financing for abortion. Family Planning Perspectives, June 1980

“Analysis of statewide data from the three States indicated that following restrictions on State funding of abortions, the proportion of reported pregnancies resulting in births, rather than in abortions, increased in all three States.” Trends in rates of live births and abortions following state restrictions on public funding of abortion. Public Health Reports, December 1990

“The data show that 13% fewer had abortions in August through December than would have been expected on the basis of the number who had abortions in January through July.” The Effects of Mandatory Delay Laws on Abortion Patients and Providers, Family Planning Perspectives, October 1994

“A maximal estimate suggests that 22 percent of the abortions among low-income women that are publicly funded do not take place after funding is eliminated.” State Abortion Rates: The Impact of Policies, Providers, Politics, Demographics, and Economic Environment, Journal of Health Economics, October 1996.

“Access variables, including the restrictiveness of state laws regulating abortion, state funding of abortions for poor women and the availability of hospital abortions, affect abortion rates directly.” The role of access in explaining state abortion rates, Social Science & Medicine, April 1997

“The incidence of abortion is found to be lower in states where access to providers is reduced and state policies are restrictive.” The effects of economic conditions and access to reproductive health services on state abortion rates and birthrates. Family Planning Perspectives, April 1997

“The decline in geographic access to abortion providers during the 1980s accounted for a small but significant portion of the rise in the percentage of women heading families.” State abortion policy, geographic access to abortion providers and changing family formation. Family Planning Perspectives. December 1998.

“States legalizing abortion experienced a 4% decline in fertility relative to states where the legal status of abortion was unchanged.” Roe v. Wade and American fertility, American Journal of Public Health, February 1999

“The Texas parental notification law was associated with a decline in abortion rates among minors from 15 to 17 years of age.” Changes in Abortions and Births and the Texas Parental Notification Law, The New England Journal of Medicine, March 2006

“Our results indicate that much of the reduction in fertility at the time abortion was legalized was permanent in that women did not have more subsequent births as a result.” Abortion Legalization and Lifecycle Fertility, The Journal of Human Resources, 2007

“The empirical results find that increases in the price of an abortion and the enforcement of a Parental Involvement Law decrease the number of infants available for adoption in a state. States that do not fund Medicaid abortions do not have higher rates of infant relinquishment.” The effect of abortion costs on adoption in the USA, International Journal of Social Economics, 2008

“Overall, the results show that laws that increased minors’ access to abortion in the 1960s and 1970s had a larger impact on minors’ birthrates than laws that increased oral contraceptive access.” Fertility Effects of Abortion and Birth Control Pill Access for Minors, Demography, November 2008

“Approximately one-fourth of women who would have Medicaid-funded abortions instead give birth when this funding is unavailable.” Restrictions on Medicaid Funding for Abortions: A Literature Review, Guttmacher Institute, June 2009

“Robustness tests supported the association between access to abortion and decreased birthrates, while the relationship between access to the pill and birthrates received less support.” Abortion or Pill Access Is Associated with Lower Birthrates Among Minors, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, March 2009

“Minors in states with mandatory waiting periods were more than two times as likely to report an unintended birth.” How Are Restrictive Abortion Statutes Associated With Unintended Teen Birth? Journal of Adolescent Health, August 2010

“A series of regressions on a comprehensive time series cross-sectional data set provides evidence that several types of state-level anti-abortion legislation result in statistically significant declines in both the abortion rate and the abortion ratio.” Analyzing the Effect of Anti-Abortion U.S. State Legislation in the Post-Casey Era, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, March 2011

“[If Roe v. Wade were overturned] abortion rates would fall by 14.9 percent nationally, resulting in at most, 178,800 additional births or 4.2 percent of the U.S. total in 2008. A ban in 17 states would result in a 6.0 percent decline in abortions and at most, 1.7 percent rise in births.” Back to the Future? Abortion Before & After Roe, National Bureau of Economic Research, August 2012

“The empirical results add to the substantial body of peer-reviewed research which finds that public funding restrictions, parental involvement laws, and properly designed informed consent laws all reduce the incidence of abortion.” Analyzing the Effect of Anti-Abortion U.S. State Legislation in the Post-Casey Era – A Reassessment, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, July 2014

“We estimated that each year more than 4000 US women are denied an abortion because of facility gestational limits and must carry unwanted pregnancies to term.” Denial of Abortion Because of Provider Gestational Age Limits in the United States American Public Health Association August 2014

“I estimate an increase in the birthrate of 4% to 12% when abortion is restricted. In the absence of anti-abortion laws, fertility would have been 5% to 12% lower in the early twentieth century.” The Effect of Anti-Abortion Legislation on Nineteenth Century Fertility, Demography, June 2015

“Counties with no facility in 2014 but no change in distance to a facility between 2012 and 2014 had a 1.3% (95% CI, −1.5% to 4.0%) decline in abortions. When the change in distance was 100 miles or more, the number of abortions decreased 50.3% (95% CI, 48.0% to 52.7%).” Change in Distance to Nearest Facility and Abortion in Texas, 2012 to 2014 Journal of the American Medical Association, January 2017

“Increases in distance have significant effects for women initially living within 200 miles of a clinic. The largest effect is for those nearest to clinics for whom a 25-mile increase reduces abortion 10%.” How Far is Too Far? New Evidence on Abortion Clinic Closures, Access, and Abortions National Bureau of Economic Research, May 2017

“This law caused an increase in viewing rates and a statistically significant but small increase in continuing pregnancy rates.” Evaluating the impact of a mandatory pre-abortion ultrasound viewing law: A mixed methods study PLoS One July 2017

“We estimate that over the past 25 years, parental involvement laws have resulted in half a million additional teen births.” Did Parental Involvement Laws Grow Teeth? The Effects of State Restrictions on Minors’ Access to Abortion, Institute for the Study of Labor, August 31, 2017 (See the SPL blog post about this specific paper here.)

“Trends in sexual behavior suggest that young women’s increased access to the birth control pill fueled the sexual revolution, but neither these trends nor difference-in-difference estimates support the view that this also led to substantial changes in family formation. Rather, the estimates robustly suggest that it was liberalized access to abortion that allowed large numbers of women to delay marriage and motherhood.” The Power of Abortion Policy: Reexamining the Effects of Young Women’s Access to Reproductive Control, Journal of Political Economy, November 2017

“Participants were asked if they had considered abortion for this pregnancy and, if so, reasons they did not obtain one…more participants who had considered abortion in Louisiana than Maryland reported a policy-related reason (primarily lack of funding for the abortion) as a reason (22% Louisiana, 2% Maryland, p < 0.001).” Consideration of and Reasons for Not Obtaining Abortion Among Women Entering Prenatal Care in Southern Louisiana and Baltimore, Maryland, Sexuality Research and Social Policy, October 2018

“Existing estimates suggest 10% of Louisiana pregnancies end in abortion. If Medicaid covered abortion, this would increase to 14%.” Estimating the proportion of Medicaid-eligible pregnant women in Louisiana who do not get abortions when Medicaid does not cover abortion BMC Women’s Health, June 2019

“Greater exposure to ARs [abortion restrictions] was associated with increased risk of UIB [unintended birth].” Implications of Restrictive Abortion Laws on Unintended Births in the U.S.: A Cross-Sectional Multilevel Analysis APHA’s 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo, November 2019

“We examine characteristics and experiences of women who considered, but did not have, an abortion for this pregnancy….Interviewees who considered abortion and were subject to multiple restrictions on abortion identified material and instrumental impacts of policies that, collectively, contributed to them not having an abortion.” Complex situations: Economic insecurity, mental health, and substance use among pregnant women who consider – but do not have – abortions PLOS ONE January 2020

Further reading:

More evidence that abortion restrictions decrease abortion rates.

As a follow up to our previous post (Pro-life laws stop abortions. Here’s the evidence.) here in chronological order are more studies suggesting that abortion restrictions do decrease abortion—and not just legal abortion, but abortion in general. Note how many of the studies focus on how abortion policy affects birth rates rather than only the abortion rate itself.

“If all states observed the Hyde Amendment restrictions, many thousands of Medicaid-eligible women who would have obtained abortions under the 1977 funding policy would not receive them.” The impact of restricting Medicaid financing for abortion. Family Planning Perspectives, June 1980

“Analysis of statewide data from the three States indicated that following restrictions on State funding of abortions, the proportion of reported pregnancies resulting in births, rather than in abortions, increased in all three States.” Trends in rates of live births and abortions following state restrictions on public funding of abortion. Public Health Reports, December 1990

“The data show that 13% fewer had abortions in August through December than would have been expected on the basis of the number who had abortions in January through July.” The Effects of Mandatory Delay Laws on Abortion Patients and Providers, Family Planning Perspectives, October 1994

“A maximal estimate suggests that 22 percent of the abortions among low-income women that are publicly funded do not take place after funding is eliminated.” State Abortion Rates: The Impact of Policies, Providers, Politics, Demographics, and Economic Environment, Journal of Health Economics, October 1996.

“Access variables, including the restrictiveness of state laws regulating abortion, state funding of abortions for poor women and the availability of hospital abortions, affect abortion rates directly.” The role of access in explaining state abortion rates, Social Science & Medicine, April 1997

“The incidence of abortion is found to be lower in states where access to providers is reduced and state policies are restrictive.” The effects of economic conditions and access to reproductive health services on state abortion rates and birthrates. Family Planning Perspectives, April 1997

“The decline in geographic access to abortion providers during the 1980s accounted for a small but significant portion of the rise in the percentage of women heading families.” State abortion policy, geographic access to abortion providers and changing family formation. Family Planning Perspectives. December 1998.

“States legalizing abortion experienced a 4% decline in fertility relative to states where the legal status of abortion was unchanged.” Roe v. Wade and American fertility, American Journal of Public Health, February 1999

“The Texas parental notification law was associated with a decline in abortion rates among minors from 15 to 17 years of age.” Changes in Abortions and Births and the Texas Parental Notification Law, The New England Journal of Medicine, March 2006

“Our results indicate that much of the reduction in fertility at the time abortion was legalized was permanent in that women did not have more subsequent births as a result.” Abortion Legalization and Lifecycle Fertility, The Journal of Human Resources, 2007

“The empirical results find that increases in the price of an abortion and the enforcement of a Parental Involvement Law decrease the number of infants available for adoption in a state. States that do not fund Medicaid abortions do not have higher rates of infant relinquishment.” The effect of abortion costs on adoption in the USA, International Journal of Social Economics, 2008

“Overall, the results show that laws that increased minors’ access to abortion in the 1960s and 1970s had a larger impact on minors’ birthrates than laws that increased oral contraceptive access.” Fertility Effects of Abortion and Birth Control Pill Access for Minors, Demography, November 2008

“Approximately one-fourth of women who would have Medicaid-funded abortions instead give birth when this funding is unavailable.” Restrictions on Medicaid Funding for Abortions: A Literature Review, Guttmacher Institute, June 2009

“Robustness tests supported the association between access to abortion and decreased birthrates, while the relationship between access to the pill and birthrates received less support.” Abortion or Pill Access Is Associated with Lower Birthrates Among Minors, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, March 2009

“Minors in states with mandatory waiting periods were more than two times as likely to report an unintended birth.” How Are Restrictive Abortion Statutes Associated With Unintended Teen Birth? Journal of Adolescent Health, August 2010

“A series of regressions on a comprehensive time series cross-sectional data set provides evidence that several types of state-level anti-abortion legislation result in statistically significant declines in both the abortion rate and the abortion ratio.” Analyzing the Effect of Anti-Abortion U.S. State Legislation in the Post-Casey Era, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, March 2011

“[If Roe v. Wade were overturned] abortion rates would fall by 14.9 percent nationally, resulting in at most, 178,800 additional births or 4.2 percent of the U.S. total in 2008. A ban in 17 states would result in a 6.0 percent decline in abortions and at most, 1.7 percent rise in births.” Back to the Future? Abortion Before & After Roe, National Bureau of Economic Research, August 2012

“The empirical results add to the substantial body of peer-reviewed research which finds that public funding restrictions, parental involvement laws, and properly designed informed consent laws all reduce the incidence of abortion.” Analyzing the Effect of Anti-Abortion U.S. State Legislation in the Post-Casey Era – A Reassessment, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, July 2014

“We estimated that each year more than 4000 US women are denied an abortion because of facility gestational limits and must carry unwanted pregnancies to term.” Denial of Abortion Because of Provider Gestational Age Limits in the United States American Public Health Association August 2014

“I estimate an increase in the birthrate of 4% to 12% when abortion is restricted. In the absence of anti-abortion laws, fertility would have been 5% to 12% lower in the early twentieth century.” The Effect of Anti-Abortion Legislation on Nineteenth Century Fertility, Demography, June 2015

“Counties with no facility in 2014 but no change in distance to a facility between 2012 and 2014 had a 1.3% (95% CI, −1.5% to 4.0%) decline in abortions. When the change in distance was 100 miles or more, the number of abortions decreased 50.3% (95% CI, 48.0% to 52.7%).” Change in Distance to Nearest Facility and Abortion in Texas, 2012 to 2014 Journal of the American Medical Association, January 2017

“Increases in distance have significant effects for women initially living within 200 miles of a clinic. The largest effect is for those nearest to clinics for whom a 25-mile increase reduces abortion 10%.” How Far is Too Far? New Evidence on Abortion Clinic Closures, Access, and Abortions National Bureau of Economic Research, May 2017

“This law caused an increase in viewing rates and a statistically significant but small increase in continuing pregnancy rates.” Evaluating the impact of a mandatory pre-abortion ultrasound viewing law: A mixed methods study PLoS One July 2017

“We estimate that over the past 25 years, parental involvement laws have resulted in half a million additional teen births.” Did Parental Involvement Laws Grow Teeth? The Effects of State Restrictions on Minors’ Access to Abortion, Institute for the Study of Labor, August 31, 2017 (See the SPL blog post about this specific paper here.)

“Trends in sexual behavior suggest that young women’s increased access to the birth control pill fueled the sexual revolution, but neither these trends nor difference-in-difference estimates support the view that this also led to substantial changes in family formation. Rather, the estimates robustly suggest that it was liberalized access to abortion that allowed large numbers of women to delay marriage and motherhood.” The Power of Abortion Policy: Reexamining the Effects of Young Women’s Access to Reproductive Control, Journal of Political Economy, November 2017

“Participants were asked if they had considered abortion for this pregnancy and, if so, reasons they did not obtain one…more participants who had considered abortion in Louisiana than Maryland reported a policy-related reason (primarily lack of funding for the abortion) as a reason (22% Louisiana, 2% Maryland, p < 0.001).” Consideration of and Reasons for Not Obtaining Abortion Among Women Entering Prenatal Care in Southern Louisiana and Baltimore, Maryland, Sexuality Research and Social Policy, October 2018

“Existing estimates suggest 10% of Louisiana pregnancies end in abortion. If Medicaid covered abortion, this would increase to 14%.” Estimating the proportion of Medicaid-eligible pregnant women in Louisiana who do not get abortions when Medicaid does not cover abortion BMC Women’s Health, June 2019

“Greater exposure to ARs [abortion restrictions] was associated with increased risk of UIB [unintended birth].” Implications of Restrictive Abortion Laws on Unintended Births in the U.S.: A Cross-Sectional Multilevel Analysis APHA’s 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo, November 2019

“We examine characteristics and experiences of women who considered, but did not have, an abortion for this pregnancy….Interviewees who considered abortion and were subject to multiple restrictions on abortion identified material and instrumental impacts of policies that, collectively, contributed to them not having an abortion.” Complex situations: Economic insecurity, mental health, and substance use among pregnant women who consider – but do not have – abortions PLOS ONE January 2020

Further reading:

“Nobody likes abortion.” – Master post of pro-abortion examples.

A lot of people who support legal abortion object to the label “pro-abortion.” They tend to prefer the term “pro-choice,” claiming “pro-abortion” incorrectly implies they like abortion or would encourage people to get abortions. In reality plenty of people think abortion should be legal but consider it an inevitable tragedy or necessary evil. They are not pro-abortion any more than people who think adultery should be legal are “pro-adultery.”

[We asked our followers what they think the difference is between “pro-choice” and “pro-abortion.” Read the answers here.]

However, when these pro-choicers reject the “pro-abortion” label, their objections often go beyond “I personally am not pro-abortion” to “There’s no such thing as ‘pro-abortion.'” For example, in Bill Nye’s recent nonsensical video on abortion, he claimed “Nobody likes abortion.”

But Nye is wrong. While most Americans see abortion as morally contentious, there’s a significant faction who embrace abortion as an unadulterated good. For those curious about what this mentality looks like, below is a sampling from people who actually are pro-abortion:

  1. You can find many such stories at Shout Your Abortion (updated continually)
  2. Dr. Jen Gunter, an abortion rights activist at University of California San Francisco, explains in a tweet, “I am pro abortion.
    There is nothing shameful or bad or wrong about the procedure, whether medical, surgical or induction.
    If it is needed, it is needed.” February 8, 2020
  3. You can follow ThankGodForAbortion on Instagram (posted January 31, 2020)
  4. “Abortion doesn’t have to be this sad, scary thing. A lot of the time it’s not. It can be empowering. It can be affirming. Mine was great.” 39 Abortion Stories Show Just How Important Abortion Access Is (Jordyn’s story), Teen Vogue, January 9, 2020
  5. SovietBaby tweet: “Just in case anyone forgot, I am PRO ABORTION. I love abortions. Abortion is beautiful. Abortion saves lives. Elective abortion is amazing. It doesn’t deserve its “stigma”. Normal medical procedures HEAL people & help people – as do abortions.”
  6. “The media often paints abortion as a divisive political issue, but here’s the truth: abortion actually is an act of love, an act of compassion, an act of healing, and an act of selflessness.” What Abortion Actually Is About, National Women’s Law Center, November 2, 2019
  7. Abortion is morally good, New York Magazine, May 17, 2019
  8. mistress misandry tweet: “I am not pro-choice. I do not think abortion is a necessary evil. I am pro-abortion, and I think abortion is an unequivocal good. It’s a modern miracle that abortion is now incredibly safe, especially in comparison to how unsafe it once was. Abortion is good.” Published February 15, 2019.
  9. Twitter thread starting with “Hate when folks say ‘nobody is pro-abortion’. Speak for yourself. I am pro-abortion…” followed my countless agreements. Accessed January 27, 2019
  10. “In ‘Shout Your Abortion,’ a Celebration of Life,” Yes Magazine, January 22, 2019
  11. Check out billboards stating “Abortion is a blessing,” “Abortion is a family value,” and “Abortion is sacred” at MyAbortionMyLife.org.. (Accessed January 13, 2019)
  12. Buy your “Abortion is a Goddamned Miracle” shirt here, Etsy, October 16, 2018
  13. “Plenty of people are pro-abortion,” The Outline, August 1, 2018
  14. This Hilarious Webseries Is Changing The Narrative About Abortion,” BUST, January 31, 2018
  15. Buy your “Abortion is a Miracle” products here. December 15, 2016
  16. Saying goodbye to abortion shame.” Bust, February 16, 2016
  17. Actually, I Love Abortion.” The Frisky, September 25, 2015
  18. My abortion made me happy: The story that started the #shoutyourabortion movement” Salon, September 22, 2015
  19. I am pro-abortion, not just pro-choice: 10 reasons why we must support the procedure and the choice” Salon, April 24, 2015
  20. Katha Pollitt On What The Pro-Abortion Rights Movement Gets Wrong About Choice” Huffington Post, October 15, 2014
  21. Abortion: Not Easy, Not Sorry” Elle, October 14, 2015
  22. Stop calling abortion a ‘difficult decision’” Washington Post, August 15, 2014
  23. Why I Filmed My Abortion” Cosmopolitan, May 5, 2014
  24. 5 Problems With ‘Keep Abortion Rare’” Everyday Feminism, April 25, 2014
  25. So what if abortion ends a life?” Salon, January 23, 2013
  26. Abortion As a Blessing, Grace, or Gift — A Renewed Conversation about Reproductive Rights” Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, January 12, 2013
  27. It Happened to Us: Abortion” XO Jane, May 8, 2012
  28. I Love Abortion: Implying Otherwise Accomplishes Nothing for Women’s Rights” RH Reality Check, March 14, 2012
  29. In Defense of Abortion On Demand and Without Apology” Gender Across Borders, September 22, 2011
  30. Labels, Labels, Labels: The Best One?” The Abortioneers, December 2, 2009

Picture taken by Zombie at one of San Francisco’s Walks for Life.

“Nobody likes abortion.” – Master post of pro-abortion examples.

A lot of people who support legal abortion object to the label “pro-abortion.” They tend to prefer the term “pro-choice,” claiming “pro-abortion” incorrectly implies they like abortion or would encourage people to get abortions. In reality plenty of people think abortion should be legal but consider it an inevitable tragedy or necessary evil. They are not pro-abortion any more than people who think adultery should be legal are “pro-adultery.”

[We asked our followers what they think the difference is between “pro-choice” and “pro-abortion.” Read the answers here.]

However, when these pro-choicers reject the “pro-abortion” label, their objections often go beyond “I personally am not pro-abortion” to “There’s no such thing as ‘pro-abortion.'” For example, in Bill Nye’s recent nonsensical video on abortion, he claimed “Nobody likes abortion.”

But Nye is wrong. While most Americans see abortion as morally contentious, there’s a significant faction who embrace abortion as an unadulterated good. For those curious about what this mentality looks like, below is a sampling from people who actually are pro-abortion:

  1. You can find many such stories at Shout Your Abortion (updated continually)
  2. Dr. Jen Gunter, an abortion rights activist at University of California San Francisco, explains in a tweet, “I am pro abortion.
    There is nothing shameful or bad or wrong about the procedure, whether medical, surgical or induction.
    If it is needed, it is needed.” February 8, 2020
  3. You can follow ThankGodForAbortion on Instagram (posted January 31, 2020)
  4. “Abortion doesn’t have to be this sad, scary thing. A lot of the time it’s not. It can be empowering. It can be affirming. Mine was great.” 39 Abortion Stories Show Just How Important Abortion Access Is (Jordyn’s story), Teen Vogue, January 9, 2020
  5. SovietBaby tweet: “Just in case anyone forgot, I am PRO ABORTION. I love abortions. Abortion is beautiful. Abortion saves lives. Elective abortion is amazing. It doesn’t deserve its “stigma”. Normal medical procedures HEAL people & help people – as do abortions.”
  6. “The media often paints abortion as a divisive political issue, but here’s the truth: abortion actually is an act of love, an act of compassion, an act of healing, and an act of selflessness.” What Abortion Actually Is About, National Women’s Law Center, November 2, 2019
  7. Abortion is morally good, New York Magazine, May 17, 2019
  8. mistress misandry tweet: “I am not pro-choice. I do not think abortion is a necessary evil. I am pro-abortion, and I think abortion is an unequivocal good. It’s a modern miracle that abortion is now incredibly safe, especially in comparison to how unsafe it once was. Abortion is good.” Published February 15, 2019.
  9. Twitter thread starting with “Hate when folks say ‘nobody is pro-abortion’. Speak for yourself. I am pro-abortion…” followed my countless agreements. Accessed January 27, 2019
  10. “In ‘Shout Your Abortion,’ a Celebration of Life,” Yes Magazine, January 22, 2019
  11. Check out billboards stating “Abortion is a blessing,” “Abortion is a family value,” and “Abortion is sacred” at MyAbortionMyLife.org.. (Accessed January 13, 2019)
  12. Buy your “Abortion is a Goddamned Miracle” shirt here, Etsy, October 16, 2018
  13. “Plenty of people are pro-abortion,” The Outline, August 1, 2018
  14. This Hilarious Webseries Is Changing The Narrative About Abortion,” BUST, January 31, 2018
  15. Buy your “Abortion is a Miracle” products here. December 15, 2016
  16. Saying goodbye to abortion shame.” Bust, February 16, 2016
  17. Actually, I Love Abortion.” The Frisky, September 25, 2015
  18. My abortion made me happy: The story that started the #shoutyourabortion movement” Salon, September 22, 2015
  19. I am pro-abortion, not just pro-choice: 10 reasons why we must support the procedure and the choice” Salon, April 24, 2015
  20. Katha Pollitt On What The Pro-Abortion Rights Movement Gets Wrong About Choice” Huffington Post, October 15, 2014
  21. Abortion: Not Easy, Not Sorry” Elle, October 14, 2015
  22. Stop calling abortion a ‘difficult decision’” Washington Post, August 15, 2014
  23. Why I Filmed My Abortion” Cosmopolitan, May 5, 2014
  24. 5 Problems With ‘Keep Abortion Rare’” Everyday Feminism, April 25, 2014
  25. So what if abortion ends a life?” Salon, January 23, 2013
  26. Abortion As a Blessing, Grace, or Gift — A Renewed Conversation about Reproductive Rights” Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, January 12, 2013
  27. It Happened to Us: Abortion” XO Jane, May 8, 2012
  28. I Love Abortion: Implying Otherwise Accomplishes Nothing for Women’s Rights” RH Reality Check, March 14, 2012
  29. In Defense of Abortion On Demand and Without Apology” Gender Across Borders, September 22, 2011
  30. Labels, Labels, Labels: The Best One?” The Abortioneers, December 2, 2009

Picture taken by Zombie at one of San Francisco’s Walks for Life.