Date

December 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.P.H.

Department

Dept. of Public Health and Preventive Medicine

Institution

Oregon Health & Science University

Abstract

Objective: The primary objective was to evaluate if state parental involvement laws were associated with different changes in minors’ birth rates between 2000 and 2006. We hypothesize that the presence of actively enforced parental involvement laws will be associated with a significantly different change in minors’ birth rate for those states, as compared to states without enforced parental involvement laws. Methods: Using state-level CDC birth data from 2000 to 2006, univariate and multivariate regression models were built in STATA using time panel data in random effects models. The primary outcome of interest was the interaction between parental involvement law and year to evaluate the relationship between birthrate to minors and parental involvement laws. An additional array of “reproductive health policy” state-level variables were identified and evaluated as confounders in this relationship. Sub-models for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black and Hispanic minors were also built to identify any ethnic-specific associations or trends. Model diagnostics were performed to evaluate the strength of the models. Results: Overall birthrates and white and black birthrates decreased significantly each year from 2000 to 2006. In contrast, birthrates to Hispanic minors, the highest of any subgroup in the US, did not change significantly in this time period. Univariate and multivariate models identified no significant relationship between parental involvement laws and change in minors’ birthrate over 2000 to 2006, including in sub-models for specific major racial groups. In all models, a state’s religiosity was significantly positively associated with birthrates in the overall and all subgroup models (p<0.001). White minors’ birthrate was positively associated with lack of abortion providers (p=0.002). Hispanic minors’ birthrate was positively associated with the high school dropout rate (p=0.048). Conclusions: Despite continued attempts to limit abortion access to women through restrictive abortion laws, our study does not show a clear effect of parental involvement laws on birth rates to minors from 2000 to 2006. If birthrate is unaffected, abortion rate is likely similarly unaffected, leaving these restrictions to stand not as a true deterrent, but as a way to make young woman seeking an abortion jump through more onerous hoops and suffer from it with a potential delay to her abortion, increasing her complication risk. Hispanic minors continue to have high birthrates and are not experiencing similar declines in birthrates seen in white and black minors, so future interventions to reduce teen birth should focus on this group of at risk young women. Religiosity is the strongest factor in predicting birth rate in our study. States considering such legislation as parental involvement laws should be wary of what effect if any it will have on reducing teen birth. Resources may be better spent in preventing teen birth instead.

Identifier

doi:10.6083/M4CR5RCR

School

School of Medicine

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