Laws restricting access to abortion services and infant mortality risk in the United States

Roman Pabayo, Amy Ehntholt, Daniel M. Cook, Megan Reynolds, Peter Muennig, Sze Y. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives: Since the US Supreme Court′s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, states have enacted laws restricting access to abortion services. Previous studies suggest that restricting access to abortion is a risk factor for adverse maternal and infant health. The objective of this investigation is to study the relationship between the type and the number of state-level restrictive abortion laws and infant mortality risk. Methods: We used data on 11,972,629 infants and mothers from the US Cohort Linked Birth/Infant Death Data Files 2008–2010. State-level abortion laws included Medicaid funding restrictions, mandatory parental involvement, mandatory counseling, mandatory waiting period, and two-visit laws. Multilevel logistic regression was used to determine whether type or number of state-level restrictive abortion laws during year of birth were associated with odds of infant mortality. Results: Compared to infants living in states with no restrictive laws, infants living in states with one or two restrictive laws (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.08; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.99–1.18) and those living in states with 3 to 5 restrictive laws (AOR = 1.10; 95% CI = 1.01–1.20) were more likely to die. Separate analyses examining the relationship between parental involvement laws and infant mortality risk, stratified by maternal age, indicated that significant associations were observed among mothers aged ≤19 years (AOR = 1.09, 95% CI = 1.00–1.19), and 20 to 25 years (AOR = 1.10, 95% CI = 1.03–1.17). No significant association was observed among infants born to older mothers. Conclusion: Restricting access to abortion services may increase the risk for infant mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3773
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Abortion
  • Infant mortality
  • US state laws


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