by Steven Ertelt
September 27, 2006
Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — A new study conducted by two university professors finds that laws requiring abortion facilities to involve parents before a minor girl can have an abortion reduce risky sexual behavior among teenagers. The study shows added benefits for parental consent and notification laws on abortion.
Florida State University law professor Jonathan Klick and Thomas Stratmann, professor of economics at George Mason University, conducted the study, which will be published in an upcoming edition of The Journal of Law Economics and Organization.
The pair examined the rates of gonorrhea among teenage girls as a result of risky sexual behavior and referenced those rates in association with parental involvement laws in effect at the time.
In states where the abortion laws were in effect, teen gonorrhea rates dropped by an average of 20 percent among Hispanic girls and 12 percent among white girls. The results were not statistically significant for black girls so no conclusion could be drawn.
Klick said the having to tell their parents about their potential abortion and sexual activities is enough of an incentive for minor girls that they lower their frequency of engaging in risky sexual activities.
"Incentives matter," Klick said. "They matter even in activities as primal as sex, and they matter even among teenagers, who are conventionally thought to be short-sighted."
"If the expected costs of risky sex are raised, teens will substitute less risky activities such as protected sex or abstinence," Klick said.
"This suggests that Hispanic and white teenage girls are forward looking in their sex decisions, and they systematically view informing their parents and obtaining parental consent as additional costs in obtaining an abortion, inducing them to engage in less risky sex when parental involvement laws are adopted," Klick explained.
He said the research doesn’t show whether teenagers practice abstinence more following parental involvement laws or whether they are more diligent in using condoms or other methods that protect against STDs.
The use of birth control pills or the morning after pill would not protect against STDs and so he ruled out an increase in minor teens using those drugs.
The researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control to determine the rates of gonorrhea for women by age and race for the years 1981 through 1998 and compared those rates to women above the age of 20 who would not be affected by parental involvement laws.
Previous studies by Dr. Michael New, a political science professor at the University of Alabama, have shown that parental involvement laws reduce the number of teen abortions.