Abortion Access and State Variation in Unintended Pregnancy
Amanda Stevenson, University of Texas at Austin
Comparing unintended pregnancy rates across states and within states across time could allow demographers to describe the impact of increasingly divergent state reproductive health policies. For example, California has greater access to subsidized contraception than Texas and comparing the two states’ unintended pregnancy rates could illuminate the impact of their divergent policies. Unexpectedly, California’s unintended pregnancy rate is estimated to be slightly higher. We identify and describe possible bias in the estimation of state unintended pregnancy rates arising from between-state variation in rates of induced abortion and the possibility of imperfect retrospective reporting of unintended pregnancies. We find that with imperfect (<90%) retrospective reporting of unintended pregnancy, the current method of estimating state unintended pregnancy rates could rank states inaccurately due differences in abortion rates. Between-state differences in rates of retrospective reporting of unintended pregnancy could also bias between-state comparisons of unintended pregnancy rates.