The Impact of a Ban on Legalized Abortion on Adolescent Childbearing in New York City
Theodore J. Joyce
Naci H. Mocan
This paper attempts to forecast the change in adolescent childbearing
among New York City residents following a ban on legalized abortion. With
monthly data on the number of births to white and black adolescents from
January, 1963 to December, 1987 we used an interrupted time-series analysis
to estimate the change in adolescent childbearing that followed the
liberalization of the New York State abortion law in 1970. We found the
level of births to black adolescents living in New York City fell 18.7
percent between 1970 and 1971, or approximately 142 fewer births per month
(p<.O0l). The level of white births fell 14.1 percent or approximately 111
fewer births per month (p<.OO1). The absolute value of the percentage
changes in births between 1970 and 1971 were applied to the forecasted number
of monthly births in 1988 and 1989. If legal abortion had been inaccessible
to New York City adolescents beginning January 1, 1988, there would have been
2143 black and 1067 white unintended births to teenagers in the first two
years of a ban. The results suggest that a prohibition on legalized abortion
would have a substantial increase in adolescent childbearing across the U.S.
although the magnitude of the change will vary according to local conditions.
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