Mandatory Waiting Periods for Abortions and Female Mental Health

26 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2005 Last revised: 29 Jan 2010

See all articles by Jonathan Klick

Jonathan Klick

University of Pennsylvania Law School; Erasmus School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center


Proponents of laws requiring a waiting period before a woman can receive an abortion argue that these cooling off periods protect against rash decisions on the part of women in the event of unplanned pregnancies. Opponents claim, at best, waiting periods have no effect on decision-making and, at worst, they subject women to additional mental anguish and stress. In this article, I examine these competing claims using adult female suicide rates at the state level as a proxy for mental health. Panel data analyses suggest that the adoption of mandatory waiting periods reduce suicide rates by about 10 percent, and this effect is statistically significant. The result is robust to various attempts to control for unobservable heterogeneity and simultaneity.

Keywords: Abortion, Stress, Fertility, Suicide, Depression, Pregnancy

JEL Classification: I12, I18, I31, J12, J13, K00, K32

Suggested Citation

Klick, Jonathan, Mandatory Waiting Periods for Abortions and Female Mental Health. Health Matrix: Journal of Law-Medicine, Vol. 16, p. 183, 2006; FSU College of Law, Law and Economics Paper No. 05-27. Available at SSRN:

Jonathan Klick (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
2157463455 (Phone)

Erasmus School of Law ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
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Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

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