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New Evidence on the Effects of Mandatory Waiting Periods for Abortion

Jason M. Lindo, Mayra Pineda-Torres

NBER Working Paper No. 26228
Issued in September 2019
NBER Program(s):Program on Children, Health Care Program, Health Economics Program, Public Economics Program

Beyond a handful of studies examining early-adopting states in the early 1990s, little is known about the causal effects of mandatory waiting periods for abortion. In this study we evaluate the effects of a Tennessee law enacted in 2015 that requires women to make an additional trip to abortion providers for state-directed counseling at least 48 hours before they can obtain an abortion. Based on our difference-in-differences approach, estimates indicate that the introduction of the mandatory waiting period caused a 62-percent increase in the share of abortions obtained during the second trimester, completely closing the pre-existing gap between Tennessee and the comparison states. Our analysis examining overall abortion rates are suggestive of reductions caused by the waiting period but these estimates are imprecise. To put these estimates into context, our back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate that Tennessee's MWP increased the monetary costs of obtaining an abortion by as much as $929 for some women.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26228

 
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