By Gudrun Schultz

  TUSCALOOSA, Alabama, February 9, 2007 ( – Abortion-restricting legislation reduces the rate of abortions among minor girls by nearly 25 percent, a new study shows, with Medicaid funding restrictions and parental notification laws having the greatest impact.

  In a study conducted by Michael J. New, assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, abortion rates among minor girls aged 13-17 dropped 23% when laws limiting access to Medicaid funding were introduced. Parental notification laws caused a 16% drop in abortion rates among the same age group.

  Published by the Heritage Foundation, the study examines the impact of four types of incremental pro-life legislation on minor abortion rates: parental involvement requirements, restrictions on Medicaid funding, informed consent laws, and bans on partial-birth abortion. 

  Of the four areas of legislation, informed consent laws and bans on partial birth abortion had the least impact on minors. As the author points out, “n most cases, minors seek abortions because they do not want to reveal their pregnancy or sexual activity to their parents. It is likely, therefore, that presenting a minor with alternatives to abortion would have little influence on her decision.”

“Similarly, since many minors seek abortions relatively early in their pregnancies, a technique other than partial birth abortion would be used in most cases involving minors.”

  The author conducted the study to attempt the identification of probable causes for the striking reduction—nearly 50 percent in some periods—in abortion rates among minor girls during the last 20+ years, a development he said has been largely ignored by researchers thus far.

“Although the decline in the overall incidence of abortion during the 1990s has been widely reported, scant attention has been paid to the more dramatic reduction in abortion rates among minors,” New wrote. “Between 1985 and 1999, the minor abortion rate fell by almost 50 percent, compared to a 29 percent decline in the overall abortion rate.”

  In testing the reliability of the study’s conclusion that pro-life legislation does in fact decrease the abortion rate among minor girls, the researchers compared the minor abortion rate to the total abortion rate following the adoption of restricting legislation, in an effort to exclude the possibility of other influences such as social or cultural shifts in attitudes towards abortion.

f abortion declines are not caused by legislation but are instead caused by changes in values that correlate with the passage of pro-life legislation, then parental involvement and informed consent laws would likely correlate with declines of similar magnitude in the overall abortion rate and the minor abortion rate because prevailing influences are affecting minors and adults alike,” New wrote in his explanation of method.

  The results showed a significantly larger reduction among minor abortion rates following parental involvement laws, compared to the over-all rate of abortion.

“The difference in the size of the impact provides evidence that parental involvement laws, not broad value shifts, are affecting minors’ decisions.”

  Medicaid restrictions led to a correlation in reduced abortions in both the adult population and among minor girls, with a drop of 21 percent among adult women and 23 percent among girls.

  See full study here: