Mandatory Waiting Periods for Abortions and Female Mental Health
26 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2005 Last revised: 29 Jan 2010
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: Suggested Citation