Back to the Future? Abortion Before & After Roe
NBER Working Paper No. 18338
Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. We use unique data on abortions performed in New York State from 1971-1975 to analyze the impact of legalized abortion in New York on abortion and birth rates of non-residents. We estimate that abortion rates declined by 12.0 percent for every hundred miles a woman lived from New York in the years before Roe. If Roe were overturned average travel distance to the nearest abortion provider would increase by 157 miles in the 31 states expected to prohibit abortion. Under this scenario abortion rates would fall by 14.9 percent nationally, resulting in at most, 178,800 additional births or 4.2 percent of the U.S. total in 2008. A ban in 17 states would result in a 6.0 percent decline in abortions and at most, 1.7 percent rise in births.