Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Summer 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Political Science

First Advisor

Tracy L. Osborn

Abstract

Scholars often argue that republican government works because elected representatives adopt policies favored by their constituents. Theoretically, this relationship is stronger with morality issues because such issues are technically simple, involve core values, and thus foster greater levels of citizen engagement. Since the U.S. Supreme Court cases of Casey and Webster, state legislatures have passed hundreds of policies that place cumulatively significant restrictions on women's access to abortion. The increasingly conservative nature of abortion policy might indicate an increasingly conservative electorate, but public opinion on abortion has remained stable since the 1970s with most Americans favoring legal abortion with some restrictions. This is the motivating question of my dissertation - why are states increasing abortion restrictions in the absence of public demand?

Previous research on abortion policy in the states has generally focused on specific policies at specific years. Studying a single policy at discrete moments in time carries an implicit assumption that the determinants of policy are constant. In order to better state abortion conservatism, I comprehensively examine the formation of state abortion policy in the different stages of policymaking, across policy types, and over time.

I find that the stages of the policy making process invokes different incentives for legislators, and as a result, the determinants of abortion policy at each stage of policymaking are different. Despite obvious differences across policy stages, I find a common theme: legislators create abortion policy in strategic ways, at the margins of the policy making arena, and excluding the preferences of the mass public. In the first empirical chapter, I focus on the agenda setting stage of policy making. Using an original dataset of all abortion-related bills introduced in the states from 2000-2010, I find that the predictors of sponsorship varies across legislator gender and party types. Additionally, I find that the effect of citizen ideology and interest group contributions varies across legislators. In the second empirical chapter, I study the diffusion of nearly 40 pro- and anti-abortion rights policies across the states. I establish a set of average predictors of state policy adoption and show how the effect of partisan actors varies across the policies. In the final empirical chapter, I develop a theory of bureaucratic activism. I use the cases of telemedicine abortion bans in Iowa, insurance bans in Georgia, and clinic regulations in Virginia to show how state bureaucracies take advantage of the broad authority granted to them to enact policy change unprompted by the legislature.

Public Abstract

Scholars often argue that republican government works because elected representatives adopt policies favored by their constituents. Since the U.S. Supreme Court cases of Casey and Webster, state legislatures have passed hundreds of policies that place cumulatively significant restrictions on women's access to abortion. However, the increase in conservative policy has not been accompanied by an increase in conservative public opinion about abortion. My dissertation addresses this question —why are states increasing abortion restrictions in the absence of public demand?

I comprehensively examine the formation of state abortion policy in the different stages of policymaking, across policy types, and over time. Despite obvious differences across policies and policy stages, I find a common theme: legislators create abortion policy in strategic ways, at the margins of the policy making arena, and sometimes excluding the preferences of the mass public. In the first empirical chapter, I focus on bill introductions in state legislatures. I find that the predictors of sponsorship vary across legislator gender and party types. In the second empirical chapter, I study the spread of pro- and anti-abortion rights policies across the states. I show which factors predict policy adoption on average and how the effect of some variables changes based on the policy. In the final empirical chapter, I develop a theory of bureaucratic activism. I use three case studies to show how state bureaucracies take advantage of the broad authority granted to them to enact policy change unprompted by the legislature.

Keywords

publicabstract, abortion, bureaucracy, gender, interest groups, public policy

Pages

x, 184 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 150-175).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Rebecca Jane Kreitzer

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