Does information about abortion safety affect Texas voters’ opinions about restrictive laws? A randomized study

Academic Article


  • Objective The objective was to assess whether information about abortion safety and awareness of abortion laws affect voters’ opinions about medically unnecessary abortion regulations. Study design Between May and June 2016, we randomized 1200 Texas voters to receive or not receive information describing the safety of office-based abortion care during an online survey about abortion laws using simple random assignment. We compared the association between receiving safety information and awareness of recent restrictions and beliefs that ambulatory surgical center (ASC) requirements for abortion facilities and hospital admitting privileges requirements for physicians would make abortion safer. We used Poisson regression, adjusting for political affiliation and views on abortion. Results Of 1200 surveyed participants, 1183 had complete data for analysis: 612 in the information group and 571 in the comparison group. Overall, 259 (46%) in the information group and 298 (56%) in the comparison group believed that the ASC requirement would improve abortion safety (p=.008); 230 (41%) in the information group and 285 (54%) in the comparison group believed that admitting privileges would make abortion safer (p<.001). After multivariable adjustment, the information group was less likely to report that the ASC [prevalence ratio (PR): 0.82; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.72–0.94] and admitting privileges requirements (PR: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.65–0.88) would improve safety. Participants who identified as conservative Republicans were more likely to report that the ASC (82%) and admitting privileges requirements (83%) would make abortion safer if they had heard of the provisions than if they were unaware of them (ASC: 52%; admitting privileges: 47%; all p<.001). Conclusions Informational statements reduced perceptions that restrictive laws make abortion safer. Voters’ prior awareness of the requirements also was associated with their beliefs. Implications Informational messages can shift scientifically unfounded views about abortion safety and could reduce support for restrictive laws. Because prior awareness of abortion laws does not ensure accurate knowledge about their effects on safety, it is important to reach a broad audience through early dissemination of information about new regulations.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Contraception  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • White K; Grossman D; Stevenson AJ; Hopkins K; Potter JE
  • Start Page

  • 381
  • End Page

  • 387
  • Volume

  • 96
  • Issue

  • 6