How Far Is Too Far? New Evidence on Abortion Clinic Closures, Access, and Abortions

Scott Cunningham, Jason M. Lindo, Caitlin Myers, Andrea Schlosser

NBER Working Paper No. 23366
Issued in April 2017, Revised in June 2017
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Care, Health Economics, Law and Economics, Public Economics

We estimate the effects of abortion clinic closures on clinic access and on abortions using variation generated by Texas HB2, a "TRAP" law that shuttered nearly half of Texas' abortion clinics in late 2013. After demonstrating that pre-existing trends in abortion rates were unrelated to the changes in access caused by HB2, we implement a difference-in-differences research design to identify the effects of abortion access. Our results suggest a substantial and non-linear effect of distance to clinics. Increases from less than 50 miles to 50-100, 100-150, and 150-200 miles reduce abortion rates by 13, 24, and 40 percent, respectively, while additional increases in distance appear to have no additional effect. We also introduce a proxy for congestion that predicts additional reductions in abortion rates as fewer clinics serve more women.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23366

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