When Dual Incentives Become Dueling: Public Health Consequences of Responsiveness to Pro-Life Sentiment
17 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 25, 2017
Those elected into office are tasked with the dual responsibilities of representing public preferences as well as taking a leadership role in defense of the public health and safety of their electorate. What are the consequences when public opinion is in tension with public health interests? Looking within the context of women's health, over which there has been extensive federal and state-level activism resulting in numerous state-level constraints on access, I address the public health consequences of abortion clinic access in the states between the years of 2008 and 2013, relying on health outcomes measures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kaiser Family Foundation. I find that greater access to clinics is strongly associated with reductions in cases of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV diagnoses, the teen birth rate, and reliance upon emergency room as opposed to outpatient care. The results suggest that investment in these services have public health consequences including but extending far beyond the domain of abortion, such that responsiveness to pro-life sentiment in the states may come with adverse health and economic consequences.
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