Diffusion of Restrictive Reproductive Laws in the United States and Abortion Rates  

Restrictive Reproductive Laws and Abortion
in the Unites States Literature This study aims to understand and
explain how restrictive reproductive laws in the United States have diffused
across state lines specifically after the ruling of Roe v. Wade in 1973. In an attempt to understand the effect of
diffusion of restrictive reproductive laws across state lines, abortion rates
will be taken into consideration to measure the effect of restrictive
reproductive laws. Even
though restrictive reproductive laws are not exclusive to abortion. Restrictive
reproductive laws have the greatest impact on abortion procedures rather than any
other women’s health issue. For this reason, I will be looking at the abortion
rates in each state and linking them to their respective state’s restrictive
reproduction laws.Prior to the now well-known
landmark case of Roe v. Wade, the
states had complete control of creating and implementing their own reproductive
laws and consequently their own abortion laws without having to abide by any
federal regulation. During the pre Roe v.
Wade era, most states opted to make it illegal for women to have access to an
abortion unless the pregnancy was life threatening to the mother, it was at
that point that the states would agree to make an exception. According to
Arceneaux (2002) “Even after Roe v. Wade,
in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that no state would infringe upon a
woman’s right to an abortion before the third trimester of pregnancy, the
states have continued to play an important role in shaping abortion policy.” (Arceneaux, 2002(Halva-Neubauer
1993; Hansen 1993). Roe v.
Wade also
ruled that “During
the second trimester, states could enact laws regulating abortion access, but
only if the state would prove that the law had a compelling interest in
protecting a pregnant women’s maternal health. During the third trimester, when
the fetus is viable, a state would enact laws restricting or even prohibiting
abortion provided that there was a medical exception to protect the life or
health of the pregnant woman.” (Find the freaking source). As a result of this ruling the
states could no longer legally take it upon their own state government to make
abortions illegal. Roe v. Wade made
it to where there are now federal standards that the states were obligated to
abide by. However, this does not mean that this ruling took all the power away
from the states. State governments continued to play a vital role in the
creation of restrictive reproduction policy related to abortions immediately
following the ruling of Roe v. Wade
and to this day have a huge impact on policy procedure.As a consequence of the Roe v. Wade ruling, the states started
to resort to other ways of regulating abortion procedures. One of those ways
was by implementing restrictive reproductive laws or sometimes referred to as restrictive
reproductive policy. Just like the word suggests these laws attempt to restrict
or limit women of their reproductive rights. To better understand what restrictive
reproductive laws are, it is important to first understand what reproductive
rights are. The World
Health Organization whose’ mission “is to direct international health within
the United Nations’ system and to lead partners in global health responses.” (World Health Organization
Website). Is one
of the world’s leader is health research following is the definition of
reproductive right they have provided. “Reproductive health, therefore, implies
that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life and
that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when
and how often to do so.”(World Health Organization Website). We might often make the mistake of associating reproductive
rights as only women’s right or relate these rights to the female body.
However, reproductive laws are for everyone, both male and female, old or
young. Reproductive rights are meant to education individuals of safe sex,
contraceptives, planning family and child birth among other things. Reproductive rights can often be
mistaken or interchanged with abortion but like previously mentioned
reproductive rights cover more than just the right to undergo and abortion or
not. However, for the purpose of the
current study’s end goal, only those restrictive reproductive laws that pertain
strictly to abortions or the abortion procedure will be looked at. To provide
some examples restricted reproductive laws can include but not limited to: public
funding for the procedure such as Medicaid funding and parental involvement,
which are the two most studied restrictive state abortion laws (Medoff, 2014). Currently
the Guttmacher Institute identifies nine main types of restrictive laws being:
physician and hospital requirements, gestational limits, “partial-birth”
abortion, public funding, coverage by private insurance, refusal,
state-mandated counseling, waiting periods, and parental involvement. (Guttmacher
Institute). Medoff’s (2012) study found the following: “Restrictive abortion laws may influence
the likelihood of women terminating an unintended pregnancy in two ways. First,
restrictive abortion laws increase the financial cost (e.g. out of pocket
expenses on travel and accommodations, lost work time, childcare expenses) and
the emotional costs (e.g. guilt, psychological trauma, shame, remorse, regret,
humiliation) incurred by a woman in obtaining an abortion. Second, restrictive
abortion laws may decrease the availability of abortion services by reducing
the number of abortion providers results in an increase in both women’s search
costs in locating an abortion provider and the time costs associated with
obtaining an abortion.” (Medoff, 2012). Remember to
look for the page number   From Medoff’s (2012) findings we
can hypnotize that the more restrictive reproduction laws are in a state or the
more restrictive reproduction laws a state has the less abortion procedures
should be happening in that state. In the United States, obstacles
to abortion procedures such as access to clinics, providers, funds, support
groups etc. Are often more common than obstacles to other common types of
reproductive health services. (Henshaw, 2003). In a study done by Jones (2011) he concludes that
“the number of abortions peaked in 1990, at 1.61 million, later dropping to
1.21 million by 2005.” However, the following year “between 2005 and 2006 the
number of abortions rose by 3%.”  Jones
(2011) also claims that “the number and rate of abortions are in part dependent
on the accessibility of abortion services, which may be affected by the number
of providers, gestational limits, cost and antiabortion harassment.” (Jones, 2011). All of
the above-mentioned variables that are affecting the accessibility to abortions
are a result of restrictive reproductive laws. Meaning that during 1990 and 2006 there had
to be some policy changes that resulted in a change of accessibility to
abortions. There are also major focusing events such as the murder of Dr.
George Tiller, an abortion provider in Kansas, that not only bring attention to
antiabortion harassment but also influence the implementation of reproductive
laws. According
to Jones (2011) in just 2000 alone around 82% of facilities in the United
States providing 400 or more abortions per year said to have experienced some
type of harassment. Whether that harassment be physical contact and blocking
off patients or shaming them for undergoing such procedure. There was also a
smaller but yet significant number of abortion providers that received bomb
threats to their buildings (Jones, 2011). Just like Roe v Wade there have been several cases that are now considered
landmark cases to abortion such as: “1989’s case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services 492 U.S. 490, upheld a
Missouri abortion law that prohibited public facilities and public employees
from being used in performing, assisting, counseling, or encouraging abortions.”
(Medoff, 2010) Missouri also required that the doctor performing the procedure
test for viability of the fetus stating at 20 weeks of gestation. Another
famous landmark case is 1992’s Planned
Parenthood v. Casey, in which the Supreme Court reversed its previously
ruling having to do with state involvement. Now allowing states to implement
what are not known as restrictive law for example pre-abortion counseling,
parental involve and other restrictive laws. Later in 2007 there were Supreme
Court cases upholding federal laws regarding partial-births. (Medoff, 2010).Diffusion Theory It is a fact that there are
restrictive reproductive laws in each of the 50 states. The goal of this study
is to understand the diffusion of these laws. Why are restrictive laws being
passed in all the states? What leads states to adopt some restrictive laws but
not all of them and how do states choose the restrictive laws they will suggest
and possibly implement in their own state. In order to answer these questions
and study restrictive reproduction laws. I have concluded that it can be best
looked at through the policy diffusion and innovation theoretical framework. This
framework would be the best through which to conduct the analysis at hand
because the whole purpose of this model is to study how different governments
adopt different polices from each other which is the ultimate goal of this study.
In the specific case of restrictive reproductive laws regarding abortion, state
governments are forced to abide by certain regulations enforced by a higher
authority such as the Supreme Court like in the case of landmark cases. Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey to name a couple.
These have been laws that have been put in place and have acted as the
foundation for future state policies (Medoff
2015). Using the regional diffusion model, I
will look at similar policies that neighboring states have adopted, and also
look at those states that might not be neighbors but that are similar to each
other in regard to their demographic makeup, political views, abortion clinics,
and abortion rates among other variables. At the end of the study I will be to
prove whether or not neighbor to neighbor diffusion exist amongst different
regions of the United States in regards to restrictive reproductive laws. I
hypothesize that indeed laws are being diffused among neighboring states and
states of similar characteristics. The bigger and more important
question also has to do with why these laws are diffusing, what mechanism(s) is
influencing the policy change in different governments. According to Berry
& Berry (Sabatier) there are at least five mechanisms that can influence a
government, those mechanisms being: Learning: “Learning occurs when
policymakers in one jurisdiction derive information about the effectiveness (or
success) of a policy from previously adopting governments.” PG 310. If the
policy is them adopted then it is said that the policy diffused as a result of
learning.Imitation: Government A imitates
government B when A adopts a policy adopted by B simply “in order to look like
[B]” Pg 311. This type of diffusion will occur when government A thinks of
government B as worthy of following. Normative pressure: A government will
fall into this type of pressure if the government observes that the policy is
widely being adopted. PG 311Competition: This type of diffusion
will occur when government A’s motive to adopt a policy is to have an economic
or other type of social advantage over another government.Coercion: This type of diffusion will
occur when government A is forced to adopt a certain policy by a larger more
powerful government with the same policy. Data and Methods Even though reproduction rights
and abortion are one of the oldest yet still to this day one of the biggest political
controversies in the United States. I have decided to measure effect of restrictive
reproductive laws through abortion rates in each state. As a result of the
sensitivity of the topic and the various opposing views. Currently all 50
states have at least one or many restrictive reproductive laws that regulate abortion.
In recent years we have seen a tremendous spike in the number of restrictive reproductive
being passed amongst the United States. In total, the past six years account
for a quarter of all abortion restrictions enacted since the Supreme Court
legalized abortion in 1973 (Phillips 2016). Even though this is not a topic
that is often put on the front of a newspaper, or talked about on the daily
news. The truth is that after so many decades and so many policies already in
place, these are policies that continue to change rapidly to adopt to society. Therefore,
it is important to look at why these reproduction laws had a huge increase. In order for this study to have
more structure to it. I have determined that an appropriate time to begin
looking at restrictive reproduction laws and how and why they have diffused
across states lines is with the1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade. In addition, to Roe v Wade 1973
being the starting point of the study I will look at other landmark cases
that will serve as focusing events. These focusing events will aid in
determining if there are patterns or trends if that could have also had an
impact on restrictive reproductive laws being pass. More specifically I will
look at every Supreme Court ruling related to restrictive reproductive laws
since Roe v. Wade and examine whether
these rulings changed the pattern of state laws being implemented as a results
of the Supreme Court rulings. Such cases and their ruling will be gather from
the Supreme Court achieves on their official website. Using a time-series
analysis I will look for evidence of regional diffusion such as similar
reproductive laws adopted in neighboring states. I will also look at what years
the laws were passed. For example if state B adopted a policy how long did it
take state A to adopt the same policy, if the same policy was every adopted. I
will determine what the motive of state A was to adopt a similar policy (refers
to one of the five mechanisms of diffusion). In order to determine a mechanism
I will look at the abortion rates in both states. If state B adopted a
restrictive reproduction law and it lower abortion rates, then did that cause
state A to adopt the same policy and what impact did this policy have on state
A’s abortion rate. I will also look at the significance of other variables such
as how many abortion clinics, providers, counseling does the state have. All the data relating to the abortion and their rates of every
state will be downloaded from the Guttmacher Institute. I have decided to use their
data base for a couple of reasons one of them being almost every scholar
interested in abortion policy refers to this database for their data. Second,
the Guttmacher Institute is one of the largest leading research and policy
organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health. Not only in
the United Stated but worldwide, their website contains raw data, articles,
they even keep track of state polices. Once all the restrictive reproduction laws all pulled for all 50
states that were implemented after Roe v.
Wade. The state’s restrictive reproduction law will be placed into one of
the following nine types of restrictive reproductive laws. The laws will be
compared among the states to determine the point in time in which state adopted
the law. For example I will be looking to see if neighboring states are adopting
policies right after each other and if they are adopting the same type of
restrictive reproductive policy.  Below
are the nine categories that restrictive reproductive laws can fall into
identified by the Guttmacher Institute. There is also a brief description of
the type of law that would fall under each category ·        
and Hospital Requirements: These types of laws can require abortions to be
performed by a licensed physician(s) and for abortions to be performed in a
hospital after a specified point in the pregnancy. ·        
Limits: These types of laws will prohibit abortions after a specified point in
the pregnancy to take place unless a women’s life is at risk.·        
Abortion: Laws that prohibit “partial-birth” abortion.·        
Funding: These law are regarding public funding for abortion. For both when
women’s life is at risk or not. ·        
by Private Insurance: The laws would be state laws that do not allow coverage of
abortions in private insurance plans. Often times these only permit insurance
companies to provide coverage when a woman’s life is at risk. ·        
These types of laws are laws when the state allows individual health care
providers to refuse participation in abortion procedures. Some states will even
allow institutions to refuse to perform abortions. ·        
Counseling: These types of laws would be if a state required the woman attend
counseling prior to undergoing an abortion.·        
Periods: These types of laws would be if the state required the woman seeking
an abortion to wait a specified period of time between her receiving counseling
and the abortion procedure being conducted. ·        
Involvement: These types of laws would be laws that required parent involvement,
parent knowledge and or parent consent during the abortion process in such case
that a minor is seeking an abortion/Other studies look at different types of state abortion laws. For
example Medoff (2016) looks at 13 different state abortion laws. However, since
I will be using data from the Guttmacher Institute data I will follow the categories
they have provided. Grouping the laws will make it easier to determine if
states are adopting the same type(s) of policies since in most cases they won’t
be word for world the same but similar idea. Why it MattersIt is well known that pregnancies
especially unintended pregnancies are common around the world. However, “in the
United States about half of all pregnancies are unintended; 28% of women 15-44
have had an unplanned birth and 30% have had an abortion; 60% of women in their
30s have had an unplanned birth or an abortion…”(Henshaw, 1998). “The
proportions of all pregnancies that are unintended vary by age group. Teenagers
younger than 18 have the highest percentage of unintended pregnancies (82-83%).
The proportion of unintended pregnancies decreases as age of woman increases.” (Henshaw,
1998). Medoff (2012) claims that the more restrictive the abortion law the costlier
the abortion. Concluding that if abortions become costlier, women will have
fewer of them. With that being said is the diffusion of restrictive
reproduction laws across the states only having an impact on the rates of
abortion?A study like this is important
for policy makers to understand whether their policy is giving them the results
they are actually looking for. Determining what mechanism is influencing the
adoption of a restrictive reproductive law is important. If a policy is not
adopted for the right reasons that could lead to bigger social problems down
the line. Having an impact on the abortion rate could only be the surface
consequence. For example if a state doesn’t properly adopt a restrictive
reproductive law and say the law they implemented causes a decrease in abortion
rates but then later results as an increase in children in foster homes or even
worse would restrictive reproductive laws could lead to a decrease in legal
abortions but possibly lead to an increase in illegal abortions that could be
putting a significant number of women’s lives in danger considering that over
half of the pregnancies in the United States are unintended and a significant
number of those women turn to abortion as a solution to their unintended
pregnancy. Medoff (2016) found in her study that “pro-life states do not significantly
differ in providing  prenatal care or
exhibit a greater willingness to place unintended pregnancies in alternative
living arrangements or provide more financial assistance to single mothers.” The
same study also found that children in pro-life state are not more likely to be
covered by health insurance or to receive needed mental health care. Children
in pro-life states are not less likely to be covered by health insurance or to
receive needed mental care. Children in restrictive abortion law states
however, do have significantly higher death rates.”The impact of restrictive
reproductive laws are more than increasing/decreasing abortion in a certain
states. This area of study is not widely explored yet and therefore, it is
critical to determine what the mechanism behind the diffusion of restrictive
reproduction laws are. Because if the causes behind the current diffusion
pattern aren’t the appropriate ones these laws might not be only effecting one
issue, but possibly even creating more social problems.   
ReferencesArceneaux, K. (2002). Direct
Democracy and The Link Between Public Opinion and State Abortion Policy. State
Politics & Policy Quarterly, 2(4), 372-387.Henshaw, S. K. (1998).
Unintended Pregnancy in the United States. Family
Planning Perspectives, 24-46Henshaw, S. K., & Finer,
L. B. (2003). The Accessibility of Abortion Services in the United States,
2001. Perspectives on Sexual and
Reproductive Health, 35(1), 16-24. Jones, R. K., &
Kooistra, K. (2011). Abortion Incidence and Access to Services in the United
States, 2008. Perspectives on Sexual and
Reproductive Health, 43(1), 41-50. Medoff, M. H. (2010). State
Abortion Policies, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider Laws, and Abortion
Demand. Review of Policy Research, 27(5), 577-594.Medoff, M. H. (2012).
Restrictive Abortion Laws, Antiabortion Attitudes and Women’s Contraceptive
Use. Social Science Research, 41(1),
160-169.Medoff, M. (2015). The
Impact of State Abortion Policy on the Price of an Abortion. Behavior
and Social Issues, 24, 56.Medoff, M. H. (2015). The
Impact of Antiabortion Criminal Activities and State Abortion Policies on
Abortion Providers in the United States.
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 36(4), 570-580.Medoff, M. (2016).
Pro-choice Versus Pro-life: The Relationship Between State Abortion Policy and
Child Well-being in the United States. Health care for women
international, 37(2), 158-169.Medoff, M. H. (2016). State Abortion Policy and
Unintended Birth Rates in the United States. Social Indicators Research, 129(2),
A. (2016, June 01). 14 states have passed laws this year making it harder to
get an abortion. Retrieved December 16, 2017, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/01/14-states-have-passed-laws-making-it-harder-to-get-an-abortion-already-this-year/?utm_term=.06de8e2329fa.