Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this guest post are solely those of the author and are not necessarily reflective of Live Action or Live Action News.
This month the journal JAMA Network Open published a study authored by a team of researchers at the University of California San Francisco. It analyzed county level abortion data from 27 states to determine how distance to abortion facilities affects county abortion rates. Holding constant a range of demographic and economic factors, it found that distance to the nearest abortion facility had both a large and significant impact on county abortion rates.
Specifically, it found that abortion rates in counties where women live close to an abortion facility were approximately five times higher than county abortion rates where the nearest abortion facility was over 120 miles away.
This study adds to a considerable body of academic research which shows that abortion facility closures reduce the incidence of abortion.
In 2013, Texas Bill HB2 took effect, which required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. It also mandated that abortion facilities meet the same standards as other health care facilities in the state. After HB2 took effect, 23 of the 42 abortion facilities in the Lone Star State closed down. Multiple peer-reviewed studies have found that Texas counties that no longer had abortion facilities experienced significantly larger abortion rate declines than those Texas counties which had at least one abortion facility.
Overall, this study provides solid evidence that pro-life efforts to close abortion facilities and enact pro-life laws are both good strategies. In particular, many supporters of legal abortion downplay the effectiveness of pro-life laws. They frequently argue that when states enact legal protections for preborn children, women seeking abortions will simply travel to states where the laws are more permissive. It is true that some women do circumvent pro-life laws in this manner. However, the results of this study indicate that pro-life laws will be successful at protecting some unborn children. Furthermore, when more states enact pro-life laws, more preborn lives will be saved.
Michael J. New is a Research Associate at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America and is an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New
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