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abortion, state regulation, regression, disparities, abortion clinics

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From 2004 to 2014, the overall abortion rate in Texas fell by almost a third from 10.7 to 7.2 abortions per 1000 women aged 10 to 49 years. During this same period, the number of abortion clinics operating at least 6 months in the year fell from 40 to 27. We examined the relationship between the abortion rate and the proximity of abortion facilities. We matched annual, county-level data on abortion rates in Texas from 2004 through 2014 with the distance from the county centroids to the nearest abortion facility in operation. Linear regressions were used to estimate the association between abortion rates and proximity to abortion facilities. The regressions controlled for county-level and state-level characteristics as well as the availability of abortion services in neighboring US states and Mexico. We found that a 100-mile increase in distance to the nearest abortion facility was associated with a 10% decrease in the overall abortion rate. The relationship appeared to be driven largely by distances of 200 miles or more. The overall relationship was generally present for whites and blacks, whereas the pattern was less clear for Hispanics. The analysis indicated that the overall association was driven largely by women aged 20 to 34 years. Decreased access to abortion facilities was associated with decreases in the abortion rate, yet the relationship varied by race/ethnicity and age. As such, regulations that affect the operational status of abortion facilities likely have differential effects on women.

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The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing, v. 54, p. 1-7