The Impact of Information about Abortion Safety on Texas Voters’ Opinions about Restrictive Laws
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A substantial gap exists between the scientific evidence demonstrating the safety of abortion in the United States and public opinion about abortion safety. For example, several studies have shown that reproductive-aged women overestimate the risks of abortion and often view childbirth as safer than abortion. In fact, the exact opposite is true: women are 14 times more likely to die as a result of giving birth than having an abortion. The risks of minor complications as a result of a first-trimester abortion are also uncommon while serious complications are extremely rare. But recent studies suggest that it may be possible to change perceptions about health issues that are based on misinformation. In this study, the authors report on results from a statewide survey of Texas voters' views regarding the two provisions of Texas House Bill (HB) 2 that were ultimately struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional because they did not improve abortion safety and placed an “undue burden” on women: a requirement that all abortion facilities to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) and a requirement that physicians providing abortion care have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of the facility. As part of an online survey about abortion laws in Texas, 1,200 registered Texas voters were randomized to receive or not receive information describing the safety of office-based abortion care and physician practices. The authors compared the association between receiving safety information and awareness of recent requirements with beliefs that ambulatory surgical center requirements for abortion facilities and hospital admitting privileges requirements for physicians would make abortion safer. They also measured voters’ support for the requirements. The authors used Poisson regression, adjusting for political affiliation and views on abortion.