Guttmacher study: Pro-life laws don’t burden women after all

A recently released report from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute reveals that, contrary to abortion advocates’ claims, the wave of pro-life state laws enacted in recent years have not imposed significant delays on the majority of women who still choose abortion.

A record 288 pro-life laws have been enacted at the state level since 2010, including informed consent requirements, waiting periods, late-term and funding restrictions, and more.

According to the report, a survey of 8,000 women who aborted in 2014, more than 75% did so within a week of first calling for an appointment. Further, wait times did not substantially vary among age, income, and ethnic groups — undermining the narrative that restricting abortion disproportionately affects the poor and minorities.

Perhaps most strikingly, women who traveled more than 50 miles for their abortion in states with mandatory waiting periods experienced a wait that was less than a day beyond the average wait time increase of about two days.


Pro-life researcher Michael New notes that this is not the first time Guttmacher researchers have found results contrary to their policy desires:

Interestingly, in 2006 a group of Guttmacher scholars published a similar study in the journal Contraception. This study surveyed 1,209 women who obtained abortions in 2004. The Contraception study found that in 2004 women waited an average of 10 days between first attempting to schedule an appointment and actually obtaining an abortion. Now the 2006 study had a smaller sample size and there appear to be some slight differences in the wording of the wait time questions in 2006 and 2016. That said, this new study shows no evidence that wait times have increased in the past 10 years and provides some evidence that waiting times might have actually decreased.

These findings are consistent with previously-covered evidence that measures such as ultrasound laws and waiting periods do not impact women who seek abortion highly confident in their decision, but have a significant impact for those who are unsure or conflicted.

On top of these laws’ proven capacity to save preborn lives, the latter group may also be the most vulnerable to mental and emotional strain after abortion, increasing the importance of giving them further opportunities and encouragement to choose life.

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