Variation in Pill Use: Do Abortion Laws Matter?

Colorado College Working Paper 2010-06

26 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2010

See all articles by Amanda J. Felkey

Amanda J. Felkey

Cornell University

Kristina M.L. Acri née Lybecker

Colorado College - Department of Economics & Business

Date Written: September 9, 2010


Economists have studied the impact of legalized abortion on a variety of factors including women’s decision surrounding when to enter the work force and how many hours to work, schooling and most controversially crime. They have also examined the determinants of state abortion restrictions across the United States, considering the strength of interest advocacy groups and demographic characteristics. Notably absent from the existing literature is a study of the impact of legalized abortion on the use of contraceptives. Earlier work has established that states with more lenient laws regarding access to contraceptive services by minors have greater pill use, but the impact of the legal framework surrounding abortion restrictions has not been examined. This paper explores the possibility that variation in state abortion availability, as proxied by legislation pertaining to women’s reproductive rights (particularly either supporting or restricting access to abortions) across the United States may generate variation in the use of birth control pills. Without the option of terminating a pregnancy, one would expect that oral contraceptives would be more widely utilized. We find restrictions on abortion availability (through abortion legislation mandating parental consent or notification) induce women to seek a reliable form of birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancies, while pro-choice sentiments in the legislature may have the opposite effect. We also consider the effect of sex education on the rate of oral contraceptive use within states.

Keywords: birth control, the pill, abortion legislation, sexual education programs

JEL Classification: D1, D81, I18, J13

Suggested Citation

Felkey, Amanda J. and Acri née Lybecker, Kristina M.L., Variation in Pill Use: Do Abortion Laws Matter? (September 9, 2010). Colorado College Working Paper 2010-06, Available at SSRN: or

Amanda J. Felkey (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Kristina M.L. Acri née Lybecker

Colorado College - Department of Economics & Business ( email )

14 E Cache La Poudre Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
United States
719-389-6445 (Phone)
719-389-6927 (Fax)

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