Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Robert Brown

Relational Format



This thesis has examined the impact of restricted abortion access on different indicators of child maltreatment. Drawing from literature linking unwanted pregnancies to child maltreatment, I posited that given the proposed relationship between unintended pregnancies and child maltreatment, we should expect to see increased instances of maltreatment within countries that allow less of forbid women from accessing abortions. For this purpose, I created an index of abortion access to numerically rate a country's level of liberality or restrictiveness. Then, using data from 49 countries, this thesis examined the potential linkage across a variety of measures that indicate child maltreatment while controlling for relevant alternative explanations. The results should be widely applicable across different cultures, given the wide-variety of countries that were examined. In general, my results provide that even when controlling for impactful factors such as poverty rate and parental attitudes towards physical punishment, abortion access within a country still has a significant effect on some indicators of child maltreatment such as severe physical punishment. This is significant because it shows that when governments make abortion hard to access this has negative effects that reach beyond merely the women denied these services. Forcing women to have children that are unwanted can negatively affect the children by increasing the likelihood of later maltreatment. These results add to the growing literature investigating the relationship between measures of child well-being and the effect of public policies. This should be considered when countries draft abortion policy.


A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

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