Cover image for The politics of fertility control : family planning and abortion policies in the American states
The politics of fertility control : family planning and abortion policies in the American states
McFarlane, Deborah R., 1951-
Publication Information:
New York : Chatham House Publishers, [2001]

Physical Description:
xv, 197 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


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HQ766.5.U5 M436 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this groundbreaking work on American public policy and human fertility control, policies and practices of the 70s, 80s, and 90s are reviewed and analyzed in each of the fifty states. Arguing that morality politics have helped make fertility policies contentious and complex, McFarlane and Meier conclude that current policies are inadequate for addressing unintended pregnancy and even contribute to high abortion rates. The authors offer alternative public policy designed to be more effective in the future.

Author Notes

Deborah R. McFarlane is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of New Mexico
Kenneth J. Meier is the Charles Puryear Professor of Liberal Arts, Professor of Political Science, and coordinator of the Program in American Politics at Texas AandM University

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Fertility control policies, defined as morality policies by the authors, include policy issues such as abortion and family planning. Policies that are based on adversarial politics and that cater to more extreme preferences frequently yield less than satisfying outcomes. The family planning policy milieu, with its lack of statutory coherence and goal incompatibility at the federal and state level, makes policy implementation more complex. The states, given much discretion in setting fertility control policies, have wide variation as to how they fund, implement, determine eligibility for, provide clinical services to, and counsel recipients of family planning or abortion services. The authors test hypotheses to determine the effects of advocacy groups, political forces, demand, and related policies on family planning funding, abortion funding, and parental involvement in abortion. They conclude that abortion politics is mostly symbolic because it is divorced from the reality of many women's lives. They also maintain that fertility control policies will remain contentious and will result in poor public policy output unless the health benefits of family planning are stressed and until real dialogue occurs among those with divergent opinions. Recommended at all levels. R. A. Strickland Appalachian State University

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tablesp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
1. Fertility Control Policy: A Theoretical Approachp. 1
Public Policy Classificationsp. 3
Morality Policyp. 3
Heterogeneous Demand
Public Expressions and Private Behavior
Bureaucratic Implementation
Fertility Control as Morality Policyp. 5
Heterogeneous Preferences
Framing Abortion and Family Planning
Public Pronouncements and Private Behavior
Public and Private Implementation
Fertility Control and Policy Adoptionp. 15
The Likelihood of Policy Successp. 18
Conclusionp. 19
2. Contraception and Abortion: A Historical Overviewp. 20
Fertility Control in Ancient Timesp. 20
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Hebrews
Ancient Greece
Ancient Rome
Other Ancient Cultures
Fertility Control in the Middle Agesp. 24
Fertility Control in Modern Timesp. 26
Contraception in Early Modern Europe
Contraception in Nineteenth-Century America
Contraception in Twentieth-Century America
Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America
Abortion in Twentieth-Century America
Conclusionp. 38
3. Family Planning Policies: An Intergovernmental Labyrinthp. 39
Chronology of Federal Family Planning Policiesp. 39
The 1960s
The 1970s
The 1980s
The 1990s
The Mazmanian and Sabatier Model: Assessing Family Planning Policyp. 55
Measuring the Statutory Coherence of Family Planning Statutes
Composite Scores
Conclusionp. 61
4. Abortion Policyp. 62
Supreme Court Decisions since Roe v. Wadep. 62
Recent Federal Developments in Abortion Policyp. 70
The Executive Branch
The Legislative Branch
Likely Effectiveness of Federal Abortion Policyp. 75
Precise and Clearly Ranked Legal Objectives
Validity of Causal Theory
Adequate Funding
Hierarchical Integration
Decision Rules of Implementing Agencies
Officials' Commitment to Statutory Objectives
Formal Access by Outsiders
Conclusionp. 79
5. State Fertility Control Policiesp. 80
Family Planningp. 80
Use of Different Funding Sources
Implementing Organizations
Range of Clinical Services
Education and Counseling
Parental Involvement
Medicaid Managed Care
Abortionp. 88
Parental Involvement
Waiting Periods
Other Restrictions
Explaining the Variation in State Policiesp. 93
Previous Research
General Hypotheses
Dependent Variables
Independent Variables
Conclusionp. 104
6. The Outputs of Fertility Control Policiesp. 106
Available Datap. 106
Family Planning Data
Abortion Data
Statutory Coherencep. 112
Family Planning
Determinants of State Policy Outputsp. 114
Family Planning Expenditures
Publicly Funded Abortions
Abortion Policy Restrictionsp. 121
Dependent Variable: State Abortion Rates
A Model of Abortion Determinants
What the States Did
The Impact of These Laws
Parental Involvement
Conclusionp. 129
7. The Impact of Fertility Control Policiesp. 131
Previous Studies of the Effects of Fertility Control Policiesp. 131
Family Planning
Fertility Control Funding and Public Health Impactsp. 133
Dependent Variables
Independent variables
Impacts from Different Family Planning Policiesp. 141
Mazmanian and Sabatier's Policy Implementation Model
Gramlich's Typology of Intergovernmental Grants
Dependent Variables
Independent Variables
Conclusionp. 149
8. Conclusionp. 151
Policy Implementation over Timep. 153
Undermining Policy Implementation
Policy Cycles and Scenarios
Gradual Erosion or Rejuvenation?
Policy Recommendationsp. 160
Don't Count on Abstinence
Promote Contraception
Be Realistic About Abortion
Symbolic Politics: Is There a Way Out?p. 164
Notesp. 167
Bibliographyp. 175
Indexp. 191
About the Authorsp. 199