The Effect of Parental Involvement Laws on Birth Control and Mental Health: New Evidence from the State YRBS

Joseph J. Sabia, San Diego State University
D. Mark Anderson, Montana State University

Parental involvement (PI) laws require a pregnant minor contemplating an abortion to notify or obtain the consent of one or more parents. The enactment of these laws can be thought of as raising the expected cost of an abortion to minors, which could impact not only abortion decisions, but also sexual decisions “down the fertility tree” (Levine 2003). Using data drawn from the state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys from 1993-2011 and a difference-in-difference-in-difference approach, we find that while the enforcement of PI laws was associated with an increase in birth control pill usage among minor teen females (relative to 18 year-old females), but no change in overall rates of sexual activity. We also find some evidence that these laws are associated with modest declines in suicide ideation, suggesting that these laws may deter unwanted pregnancy.

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Presented in Session 12: Policy and Intervention Effects on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health