Abortion Rates in the United States: The Influence of Opinion and Policy

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SUNY Press, Feb 15, 1996 - Political Science - 153 pages
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Few studies make a direct connection between public opinion, public policies, and the behavior of the mass public. This book demonstrates for the first time that such a connection can be found when examining abortion politics in the United States. Using public opinion data for all fifty states, the author demonstrates the state policies to restrict abortion closely match the preferences of the mass public. More important, he shows a profound link between public opinion on abortion and abortion rates in the United States. Where state publics are more permissive in their attitudes toward abortion, state policies tend to be more permissive, and rates of abortion utilization tend to be higher. The book also explores the impact of policy changes on abortion rates. Using sophisticated statistical techniques, the author examines policy changes at both the state and national level. The analysis points to an intriguing paradox: national policy changes have no real effect on abortion rates, yet state policy changes do. This finding suggests that the states are the place to look for significant changes in abortion utilization in response to policy.
 

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Contents

The Link Between Public Opinion and Policy
1
The Supreme Court and Abortion Policy
13
The Impact of Policy Change Courts and Legislatures
41
The Structure and Stability of Attitudes on Abortion
59
State Public Opinion and Abortion Policy
75
Abortion Policy in the United States
91
Explaining Abortion Rates in the United States
113
Conclusion
125
References
131
Index
145
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About the author (1996)

Matthew E. Wetstein is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at University of the Pacific and the Department of Politics and Public Administration at California State University, Stanislaus.

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