TRAP Abortion Laws and Partisan Political Party Control of State Government

By Medoff, Marshall H.; Dennis, Christopher | The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, October 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

TRAP Abortion Laws and Partisan Political Party Control of State Government


Medoff, Marshall H., Dennis, Christopher, The American Journal of Economics and Sociology


Introduction

Policy adoption is an area of considerable research interest in the political science/public choice literature. The focus and concern of much of this empirical research are the questions, "How responsive is government policy to public policy preferences? Do public policy preferences influence public policy? However, in a representative democracy, the degree to which legislators follow voter preferences is likely to vary according to the policy issue in question (Gormley 1986).

State policies can be grouped into two types: morality policies and redistributive policies. Morality policies are "those which seek to regulate social norms or which clearly evoke strong moral responses from citizens for some other reason" (Mooney and Lee 1995: 600). Morality policies differ from redisributive policies in several unique ways. Morality policies involve contentious conflicts over fundamental values, are highly salient to the general public, non-technical, easy to understand, and require little information for citizens to participate.

Abortion is thought to be one of the most prominent examples of a morality policy since (1) nearly everyone is familiar with the issue and has an opinion, position, or belief on abortion; (2) it requires little information for citizens to participate because proponents and opponents of abortion have framed the issue between reproductive rights versus the rights of the fetus to life; and (3) there are inflexible and uncompromising positions on the abortion issue that are dichotomous--either life begins at conception or it does not. It has been argued that legislative adoption of morality policies like abortion is affected by the resources available to the opponents and proponents of abortion and the demand for abortion services and not the public's abortion policy preferences (Meier and McFarlane 1993).

Redistributive policies transfer benefits, expenditures, or resources from one group or class to another (Greenberg and Page 2009). Medoff (2002) argues that abortion is a redistributive issue not a morality issue because it has a consumption spillover (redistributive) effect. A consumption spillover effect occurs when the consumption of a good or service by one party has repercussions or redistributive effects on other parties. A spillover effect may be positive (the education of a child provides benefits to other members of society by promoting a stable and democratic society) or negative (second-hand cigarette smoke in a restaurant affects the health of non-smoking diners). In the case of abortion, there are negative and positive consumption spillover effects associated with abortion. Those who consume abortion services cause an unintended, negative effect on those who are morally opposed to abortion and believe abortion represents the taking of an innocent life. Those who oppose abortion suffer a psychological or emotional loss. Those who consume abortion may also cause a positive effect on those who support abortion rights and believe in the liberty right of a pregnant woman to control her own fertility. Abortion has also been found to have a positive effect on members of society by reducing crime (Donohoe and Levitt 2001), reducing child abuse (Bitler and Zavodny 2004), and saving public monies spent on federal and state medical and social welfare expenditures (i.e., Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, childcare, food stamps, Medicaid; Gruber et al. 1999). Goggin (1993) notes that if abortion is a redistributive policy, then the adoption of restrictive abortion laws is determined primarily by the political ideology of political parties and single-issue advocacy groups.

The purpose of this study is to systematically examine the determinants of the restrictiveness of a state's abortion policy. We use the event history analysis estimation technique to examine a more methodologically valid measure of a state's restrictive abortion policy in order to address several important public policy questions.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

TRAP Abortion Laws and Partisan Political Party Control of State Government
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?