Friday, May 12, 2023

Our researchers at the Center for Public Health Law Research, in collaboration with the Society of Family Planning (SFP), have created a longitudinal dataset tracking state-level policy changes after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The dataset provides researchers with a resource to evaluate the impact of the Dobbs decision and is a companion project to SFP’s #WeCount project, a national abortion reporting effort. 

SFP recently announced a new grant for researchers to conduct secondary analysis of the #WeCount abortion data using the CPHLR post-Dobbs dataset and the Abortion Access Dashboard, which describes the impact that abortion policy has on access by describing appointment availability and travel distance to the nearest clinic. The purpose of this funding opportunity is to encourage the use of these datasets to expand our understanding of the impact of the Dobbs ruling. 

The CPHLR legal dataset was created using a rapid scientific legal mapping technique called sentinel surveillance. It provides a high-level overview of state abortion restrictions and protections enacted post-Dobbs, tracking key legal developments from June 1, 2022, through January 1, 2023. The dataset will continue to be updated to track legal developments through one year after the decision.   

The data capture policy variables relevant to the shifting abortion service delivery environment under the Dobbs decision. Policy variables were coded based on state statutes, regulations, ballot measures, court opinions, and executive orders. Many of these variables also include sub-categories that provide further nuance and detail on the law. The high-level variables address:  

  1. Does the state restrict the legal status of abortion?
  2. Did a trigger law come into effect?
  3. Does the state explicitly restrict access to medication abortion?
  4. Does the state explicitly restrict telehealth for abortion care?
  5. What actions related to abortion may be penalized? 
  6. Does state law explicitly create fetal personhood rights?
  7. Does the state protect access to abortion? 
  8. Did the state propose a ballot measure related to abortion? 

These longitudinal data may help researchers answer questions about the way shifts in the legal landscape have affected the availability and provision of abortion services since the Dobbs decision. In addition to changes in state abortion laws, the data capture court rulings limiting enforcement of restrictions to provide a more precise picture of the rapid fluctuations in abortion regulation over a one-year period.   

The dataset can be used in conjunction with outcome data and other data sources to evaluate the impact of abortion restrictions and protections post-Dobbs. The dataset presents policy variables in an interactive question-and-answer format and features maps, state profiles, codebook and downloadable CSV files. All legal data collection and coding procedures and quality control measures are detailed in a research protocol for transparency and reliability. 

Learn more about the SFP funding opportunity (open through June 14, 2023) 

Explore the CPHLR post-Dobbs legal data