Restrictions on Medicaid Funding of Abortion: Effects on Pregnancy Resolutions and Birth Weight
Janet Currie, Lucia Nixon, Nancy Cole
NBER Working Paper No. 4432
Previous research suggests that restricting the availability of abortion reduces average birth weight by increasing the number of unhealthy fetuses that are carried to term. In this paper we use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to ask whether restrictions on Medicaid funding of abortion have this effect. We attempt to account for the potential endogeneity of abortion laws by comparing the effects of liberal statutes to those of court injunctions ordering states to fund abortion. Our results suggest that restrictions do increase the probability that African-American and low income women carry a pregnancy to term, but that they have no direct effect on birth weight. In contrast, community-level measures of the availability of abortion, contraception, and prenatal care do affect birth weight among African-Americans but not among whites.
Published: Journal of Human Resources (Winter 1996).