Public opinion and policymaking in the states: The case of post-roe abortion policy

Barbara Norrander, Clyde Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Whether public opinion should be expected to play a role in the shaping of abortion legislation in the states is a debatable question. Representation is a difficult task, especially if legislators receive mixed cues from the public, activists, and the political parties. In this study, we find that grass-roots activism and public opinion tend to match, and both are reflected in state abortion policy. In addition, more Pro-Life policies are found in states with a tradition of conservative policies in other areas, Republican majorities in the state legislature, more Catholic residents, and fewer women legislators. These patterns hold true for a composite index of abortion policies and for the specific policy area of government funding of abortions. Slightly different patterns occur for parental consent laws, though these statutes also tend to reflect general preferences on abortion and interest group activity in a state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-722
Number of pages16
JournalPolicy Studies Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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