Over 30,000 babies saved post-Dobbs, study shows

By Dave Andrusko

When even the endlessly pro-abortion New York Times admits that “The first estimate of births since Dobbs found that almost a quarter of women who would have gotten abortions carried their pregnancies to term,” you know the evidence for the pro-life impact of the decision that overturned Roe v. Wade must be solid.

Coming from the other end of the political spectrum Michael New, writing for the pro-life National Review Online, confirms Margot Sanger-Katz’s and Claire Cain Miller’s conclusion:

A new analysis of birth data published by the Institute of Labor Economics in Germany [“The Effects of the Dobbs Decision on Fertility”] provides powerful statistical evidence that post-Dobbs pro-life laws have saved tens of thousands of lives. This study analyzed U.S. birth data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) up to June 2023. It found that state pro-life laws enacted after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June 2022 resulted in 32,000 more children being born.

This analytically rigorous study compared birth trends in the 14 states that were largely protecting all preborn children by the end of 2022 with a group of 24 states and the District of Columbia where abortion was legal. Twelve other states that had either attempted to ban abortion or were enforcing a gestational age limit were not considered in the analysis.

Interestingly, in the 14 states that had enacted strong pro-life laws, the authors found that there were above-average birth-rate increases among both Hispanic women and women between the ages of 20 and 24. Furthermore, the study also found that there were also above-average birth-rate increases in Mississippi, Texas, and other states that were located longer distances from out-of-state abortion facilities.

The Times’s Sanger-Katz and Miller summarized the results of the study (no doubt to their chagrin) this way:

“The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization sparked the most profound transformation of the landscape of abortion access in 50 years,” the researchers wrote. “We provide the first estimates of the effects of this decision on fertility using a preregistered synthetic difference-in-differences design applied to newly released provisional natality data for the first half of 2023.”

“Our primary analysis indicates that in the first six months of 2023, births rose by an average of 2.3 percent in states enforcing total abortion bans compared to a control group of states where abortion rights remained protected, amounting to approximately 32,000 additional annual births resulting from abortion bans,” the study found. “These effects vary across demographic groups and tend to be larger for younger women and women of color.” …

The new analysis, published Friday as a working paper by the Institute of Labor Economics, found that in the first six months of the year, between one-fifth and one-fourth of women living in states with bans — who may have otherwise sought an abortion — did not get one. …

“The importance of our results is when you take away access, it can affect fertility,” said Daniel Dench, an economist at Georgia Tech and an author of the paper with Mayra Pineda-Torres of Georgia Tech and Caitlin Myers of Middlebury College. “When you make it harder, women can’t always get out of states to obtain abortion.”

“The data on births is preliminary,” the New York Times reporters wrote. “A fuller accounting of the effect of Dobbs on the fertility rate, including county-level data, will not be available for another year. The researchers can’t be certain that the increase in births is attributed to women who wanted abortions but couldn’t get them, but the timing and consistency of the results suggest so.”

Indeed. New concludes

[T]he results of this Institute for Labor Economics study are broadly consistent with my Charlotte Lozier Institute study of November 2022 and with the June 2023 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Both showed an increase in Texas birth rate after the Texas Heartbeat Act took effect.