The Impact of Legal Abortion on Maternal Health: Looking to the Past to Inform the Present

90 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2021 Last revised: 4 Apr 2022

See all articles by Sherajum Monira Farin

Sherajum Monira Farin

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Students

Lauren Hoehn-Velasco

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

Michael Pesko

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 1, 2021

Abstract

From 1959 to 1980, abortion-related mortality declined by 97%, and maternal mortality fell by 86%. In this study, we question whether the legalization of abortion over 1969-1973 explains a portion of this maternal mortality decline. Our results suggest that legal abortion reduced non-white maternal mortality by 30-40%, with little impact on overall or white maternal mortality. We also find that early state-level legalizations were crucial, and explain more of the observed mortality decline than the Roe v. Wade decision itself. Overall, our findings suggest that legal abortion substantially improved maternal health for disadvantaged groups.

Note:
Funding Information: None to declare.

Declaration of Interests: Dr. Pesko reports separate funding exceeding $10,000 over the past three years from the American Cancer Society, University of Kentucky’s Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise, and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Pesko is an executive board member of the Tobacco Online Policy Seminar. Dr. Hoehn-Velasco reports separate funding from the National Institutes of Health. All others have nothing to declare.

Keywords: Abortion, Legal Abortion, Maternal Mortality, Roe v. Wade, Maternal Health

JEL Classification: I18, J13, K38, H75

Suggested Citation

Farin, Sherajum Monira and Hoehn-Velasco, Lauren and Pesko, Michael, The Impact of Legal Abortion on Maternal Health: Looking to the Past to Inform the Present (September 1, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3913899 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3913899

Sherajum Monira Farin

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Students ( email )

GA
United States

Lauren Hoehn-Velasco (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies ( email )

Department of Economics
35 Broad Street, 6th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States

Michael Pesko

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

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