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The Impact of State Laws Protecting Abortion Clinics and Reproductive Rights on Crimes against Abortion Providers: Deterrence, Backlash, or Neither?


The Impact of State Laws Protecting Abortion Clinics and Reproductive Rights on Crimes against Abortion Providers: Deterrence, Backlash, or Neither?

Abstract: 

Since Roe v. Wade, most states have passed laws either restricting or further protecting reproductive rights. During a wave of anti-abortion violence in the early 1990s, several states also enacted legislation protecting abortion clinics, staff, and patients. One hypothesis drawn from the theoretical literature predicts that these laws provide a deterrent effect and thus fewer anti-abortion crimes in states that protect clinics and reproductive rights. An alternative hypothesis drawn from the literature expects a backlash effect from radical members of the movement and thus more crimes in states with protective legislation. We tested these competing hypotheses by taking advantage of unique data sets that gauge the strength of laws protecting clinics and reproductive rights and that provide self-report victimization data from clinics. Employing logistic regression and controlling for several potential covariates, we found null effects and thus no support for either hypothesis. The null findings were consistent across a number of different types of victimization. Our discussion contextualizes these results in terms of previous research on crimes against abortion providers, discusses alternative explanations for the null findings, and considers the implications for future policy development and research.

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Full Citation: 

Pridemore, William A., and Joshua D. Freilich. 2007. "The Impact of State Laws Protecting Abortion Clinics and Reproductive Rights on Crimes against Abortion Providers: Deterrence, Backlash, or Neither?." Law and Human Behavior (July): 1-17. http://www.springerlink.com/content/f5197g4428t51q25/fulltext.pdf

START Author(s): 
Joshua Freilich
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