Abortion before & after Roe

J Health Econ. 2013 Sep;32(5):804-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2013.05.004. Epub 2013 Jun 7.


We use unique data on abortions performed in New York State from 1971 to 1975 to demonstrate that women traveled hundreds of miles for a legal abortion before Roe. A 100-mile increase in distance for women who live approximately 183 miles from New York was associated with a decline in abortion rates of 12.2 percent whereas the same change for women who lived 830 miles from New York lowered abortion rates by 3.3 percent. The abortion rates of nonwhites were more sensitive to distance than those of whites. We found a positive and robust association between distance to the nearest abortion provider and teen birth rates but less consistent estimates for other ages. Our results suggest that even if some states lost all abortion providers due to legislative policies, the impact on population measures of birth and abortion rates would be small as most women would travel to states with abortion services.

Keywords: Abortion; Births; I1; J1; Roe v. Wade.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • New York
  • Pregnancy
  • Supreme Court Decisions*
  • Travel*
  • United States
  • Young Adult