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The relationship between state abortion-restrictions and homicide deaths among children under 5 years of age: A longitudinal study

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  • Sen, Bisakha
  • Wingate, Martha Slay
  • Kirby, Russell

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore whether, in the U.S., there are associations between state-level variations in mortality among young children and state abortion restriction policies – such as parental-consent requirements, parental-notification requirements, mandatory delay laws, and restrictions on Medicaid funding for abortion. To investigate this, we used NCHS Multiple Cause of Deaths public-use data files for the period 1983–2002, and compiled data on children ages 0–4 identified as having died as a result of assault/homicide in each state and year. Medicaid funding of abortion, mandatory delay laws, and parental involvement laws for minors seeking abortions were included as the main predictor variables of interest. Multivariate count data models using pooled state-year-age cohort data, with state and time fixed effects and other state-level controls, were estimated. Results indicated that, between 1983 and 2002, the average increase in the number of homicide deaths for children under 5 years of age was 5.70 per state among states that implemented stricter abortion policies over that time, and 2.00 per state for states that did not. In the count data models, parental-consent laws were associated with a 13 percent increase in child homicide deaths; parental-notification laws were associated with an 8 percent increase in child homicide deaths though the results were less robust to alternate model specifications; mandatory delay requirements were associated with a 13 percent increase in child homicide deaths. While these data do not allow us to discern precise pathways via which state abortion-restrictions can lead to more child homicide deaths, we speculate that state restrictions on abortion may result in a disproportionate increase in children born into relatively high-risk environments. Additional research is called for to explore the association of state abortion-restrictions with other measures of infant/child health and well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Sen, Bisakha & Wingate, Martha Slay & Kirby, Russell, 2012. "The relationship between state abortion-restrictions and homicide deaths among children under 5 years of age: A longitudinal study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 156-164.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:1:p:156-164
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.01.037
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