Abstract

In the brief period between 1967 and 1971 about one-third of the state legislatures passed abortion reform bills, and in states such as Maryland the number of legal abortions soared. Maryland with its good reporting system for legal abortions, as well as its demographic representativeness, appears to offer an ideal “test situation” for assessing the impact on fertility of the new liberalization. Data on live births and reported induced abortions to residents of the state have been compiled and analyzed in an effort to interpret the recent changes in birth rates. Variables examined include maternal age, birth order, race, and legitimacy.

Since 1968, Maryland, along with higher than national average abortion ratios, has experienced a rate of decline in fertility greater than that for the nation. In addition, most of the age and parity groups with high abortion ratios show fertility declines greater than those for groups not using abortion as extensively, Nevertheless, because a number of different factors simultaneously influence fertility, it is hazardous to make accurate cause-and-effect statements on the relationship of any single one of these to the observed change.

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