INTERSECTIONALITY AND ABORTION LEGISLATION: WOMEN LEGISLATORS, RACE AND 2010-2013 STATE ABORTION LAWS

Open Access
Author:
Giotto, Gabriella Nicole
Area of Honors:
Political Science
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Michael Barth Berkman, Thesis Supervisor
  • Gretchen G Casper, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Intersectionality
  • women
  • politics
  • abortion
  • state legislature
  • state abortion policy
  • women of color
  • race
  • 2011
  • 2013
  • United States
  • Black women
  • committee
  • incorporation
Abstract:
Researchers studying state abortion policy often analyze the impact of women state legislators but rarely narrow their lens to an intersectional perspective. We know that, in general, the presence of women in a state legislature decreases the amount of successfully passed restrictive abortion legislation. But we also know that women of color are more restricted than white women from abortion services due to economic barriers and that they receive abortions at a higher frequency than white women when not controlling for unintended pregnancies. In my analysis of 2011 and 2013 United States legislatures, which represents the two years restrictive abortion legislation increased at its highest rate, I hypothesize that the impact of Democratic women legislators will vary across dimensions of state abortion policy and that Democratic women legislators of color will have distinct impacts across different policies. Further, I hypothesize that the incorporation of women into positions of legislator power is critical to these effects. Using policy data from Kreitzer (2015), I analyze all state abortion policies in a multivariate analysis testing the impact of women and race, while controlling for other state-level variables. My findings show that the presence of Democratic women legislators, specifically those incorporated onto abortion-relevant committees, decreases the amount of restrictive abortion legislation, while the impact of Democratic Black women legislators remains unclear with a slight indication that their presence increases restrictive abortion policies.