October 2022

IZA DP No. 15657: The Impact of Legal Abortion on Maternal Mortality

Sherajum Monira Farin, Lauren Hoehn-Velasco, Michael Pesko

Legal abortion has recently been suggested as an essential healthcare service. In this study, we consider whether abortion legalization over 1969-1973 improved women's health, measured by maternal mortality. Our event-study results indicate that legal abortion substantially lowered non-white maternal mortality by 30-40%, with 113 non-white maternal deaths averted nationally in the first year abortion became legal. We also find that early state-level legalizations were crucial, and more influential than the Roe v. Wade decision itself.