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State Abortion Policy, Geographic Access to Abortion Providers and Changing Family Formation

Daniel T. Lichter, Diane K. McLaughlin and David C. Ribar
Family Planning Perspectives
Vol. 30, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 1998), pp. 281-287
Published by: Guttmacher Institute
DOI: 10.2307/2991504
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2991504
Page Count: 7
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State Abortion Policy, Geographic Access to Abortion Providers and Changing Family Formation
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Abstract

Context: One of the goals in cutting welfare payments and setting time limits on welfare receipt is the reduction of out-of-wedlock childbearing among poor women. Yet such changes may increase the demand for abortion at the same time that access to abortion has decreased, throwing into doubt the potential effect of these changes on the proportion of women who are heading families. Methods: State and county fixed-effects models were used to estimate the effects of factors influencing abortion availability-geographic access, parental notification requirements and Medicaid funding restrictions-on the county-level proportion of women heading households. Results: 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 (about 2%). Restrictions on Medicaid funding for abortion accounted for about half of the increase in female headship among blacks, while new state parental notification requirements contributed modestly to the rise in the proportion of white women heading single-parent families. Conclusions: Welfare reform legislation and attempts to reduce the availability of abortion services in the United States appear to be working at cross-purposes. Cutbacks in access to abortion may have contributed modestly to the increase in the proportion of women heading households.

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