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    Abortion rates in the American states: the impacts of opinion and policy on abortion utilization.

    Wetstein ME

    Ann Arbor, Michigan, University Microfilms International, 1993. [16], 228 p. (Order No. 9400674)

    Verification of the significant impact of public support for abortion on both abortion access and abortion rates was provided through the application of interrupted time series design, multiple regression analysis, and causal modelling techniques to survey data from the US states. National statistics fail to demonstrate a statistically significant impact on US abortion rates of 3 major policy changes: the Roe vs Wade decision, the prohibition of Medicaid funding for abortion, and the anti-abortionist Reagan-Bush presidency. On the other hand, and consistent with the trend toward state control over abortion policy, disaggregation revealed substantial policy-abortion rate correlations in most states. Attitudes toward abortion, which remain remarkably constant over time, are largely dependent (70% of variance explained) by 5 factors: percent Christian, percent Catholic, percent Mormon, percent urban, and socioeconomic status. In states where public opinion on abortion is predominantly liberal, there tend to be fewer restrictions on abortion and a greater likelihood that the state will provide Medicaid funds. In the bivariate analysis, state scores on abortion opinion accounted for 18% of the variance in the policy index. For every 1 point drop in support for abortion, there is an increase of 1 in the number of restrictions on the procedure. Higher socioeconomic status, greater metropolitan populations, and larger Catholic populations tend to produce stronger public support for abortion, while states with large Christian or Mormon populations have more conservative opinion poll findings. While Catholicism is associated with support for abortion and a larger number of abortion facilities, it is also linked to more abortion policy restrictions--a contradiction that may reflect divisions between the Church leadership and membership. There is a need for additional research on aggregate public opinion variables and their relationship with abortion policy and abortion rates, especially at the state level.
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