Abortion Access and Risky Sex Among Teens: Parental Involvement Laws and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Posted: 23 Jun 2008
Date Written: May 2008
Laws requiring minors to seek parental consent or to notify a parent prior to obtaining an abortion raise the cost of risky sex for teenagers. Assuming choices to engage in risky sex are made rationally, parental involvement laws should lead to less risky sex among teens, either because of a reduction of sexual activity altogether or because teens will be more fastidious in the use of birth control ex ante. Using gonorrhea rates among older women to control for unobserved heterogeneity across states, our results indicate that the enactment of parental involvement laws significantly reduces risky sexual activity among teenage girls. We estimate reductions in gonorrhea rates of 20% for Hispanics and 12% for whites. Although we find a relatively small reduction in rates for black girls, it is not statistically significant. We speculate that the racial heterogeneity has to do with differences in family structure across races.
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