Living in an abortion ban state is bad for mental health

“The false idea that getting an abortion makes women irreparably depressed and anxious, that it causes a deep psychic wound, has for decades been used by anti-abortion activists to support abortion restrictions.
But the argument is entirely based on anecdotes, personal beliefs, and vibes. No good science has demonstrated this link.

That’s not because nobody’s tried to answer the question of what the mental health impacts of abortion are on the women who obtain them. It’s because the answer to that question, over and over again, is: none. In study after study, researchers have consistently shown that getting an abortion does not cause mental health problems.

What does reliably worsen women’s mental health, however, is banning or restricting abortion access.

A wealth of research has shown that when people are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies, it negatively impacts their physical health and finances — and mental health. In a survey conducted before the US Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, women living in states with more abortion restrictions had higher rates of mental distress. In another study, states enforcing abortion restrictions between 1974 and 2016 had higher suicide rates in women of childbearing age in particular.

But when the court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, it wasn’t making a decision grounded in science.

Now we’re more than a year and a half into living with the consequences. And when it comes to women’s mental health, the fallout is following the exact pattern scientists predicted.”

“Using data gathered as part of US Census Household Pulse surveys, the researchers looked at respondents’ self-reported anxiety and depression scores from about six months before and six months after the Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion. They compared scores on a scale of zero to 12 among people in states with and without trigger bans, abortion restrictions that went into effect as soon as the Supreme Court issued its ruling.

What they found was, frankly, predictable: Before the Court’s decision, anxiety and depression scores were already higher in trigger states — a population-wide average of 3.5 compared with 3.3 in non-trigger states. After the decision, that difference widened significantly, largely due to changes in the mental health of women 18 to 45, what the authors defined as childbearing age. Among this subgroup, anxiety and depression scores subtly ticked up in those living in trigger states (from 4.62 to 4.76) — and dropped in those living in non-trigger states (from 4.57 to 4.49). There was no similar effect in older women, nor in men.”

https://www.vox.com/24071802/abortion-roe-overturn-trigger-ban-states-mental-health

San Francisco’s Can-Kicking on Zoning Reform Could See It Lose All Zoning Powers

“It takes San Francisco three years on average to fully approve new housing projects, the longest of any jurisdiction in California, according to an audit published by the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) in October.
The very predictable result is that the Golden State’s fourth-largest city is also one of the nation’s most expensive, with median one-bedroom rents above $2,000 and a median home value of $1.4 million.

That San Francisco is expensive because it takes forever to approve new housing isn’t a new finding. Whether the city will actually get rid of the regulations gumming up home construction is now coming to a head.”

https://reason.com/2023/12/05/san-franciscos-can-kicking-on-zoning-reform-could-see-it-lose-all-zoning-powers/

Americans Are Still Fleeing High-Tax States

“”The IRS data show that between 2020 and 2021, 26 states experienced a net gain in income tax filers from interstate migration—led by Florida (+128,228), Texas (+82,842), North Carolina (+40,828), Arizona (+32,636), and Tennessee (+30,292)—while 24 states and the District of Columbia experienced a net loss—led by California (-158,220), New York (-142,109), Illinois (-53,910), Massachusetts (-25,029), and Louisiana (-14,113),” write Yushkov and Loughead.
“Consistent with last year’s version of this publication, it is clear from the 2020-2021 IRS migration data that there is a strong positive relationship between state tax competitiveness and net migration,” they add. “Overall, states with lower taxes and sound tax structures experienced stronger inbound migration than states with higher taxes and more burdensome tax structures.””

https://reason.com/2023/11/17/americans-are-still-fleeing-high-tax-states/

The US doesn’t have universal health care — but these states (almost) do

“Universal health care remains an unrealized dream for the United States. But in some parts of the country, the dream has drawn closer to a reality in the 13 years since the Affordable Care Act passed.
Overall, the number of uninsured Americans has fallen from 46.5 million in 2010, the year President Barack Obama signed his signature health care law, to about 26 million today. The US health system still has plenty of flaws — beyond the 8 percent of the population who are uninsured, far higher than in peer countries, many of the people who technically have health insurance still find it difficult to cover their share of their medical bills. Nevertheless, more people enjoy some financial protection against health care expenses than in any previous period in US history.

The country is inching toward universal coverage. If everybody who qualified for either the ACA’s financial assistance or its Medicaid expansion were successfully enrolled in the program, we would get closer still: More than half of the uninsured are technically eligible for government health care aid.

Particularly in the last few years, it has been the states, using the tools made available by them by the ACA, that have been chipping away most aggressively at the number of uninsured.

Today, 10 states have an uninsured rate below 5 percent — not quite universal coverage, but getting close. Other states may be hovering around the national average, but that still represents a dramatic improvement from the pre-ACA reality: In New Mexico, for instance, 23 percent of its population was uninsured in 2010; now just 8 percent is.

Their success indicates that, even without another major federal health care reform effort, it is possible to reduce the number of uninsured in the United States. If states are more aggressive about using all of the tools available to them under the ACA, the country could continue to bring down the number of uninsured people within its borders.

The law gave states discretion to build upon its basic structure. Many received approval from the federal government to create programs that lower premiums; some also offer state subsidies in addition to the federal assistance to reduce the cost of coverage, including for people who are not eligible for federal aid, such as undocumented immigrants. A few states are even offering new state-run health plans that will compete with private offerings.”

https://www.vox.com/policy/23972827/us-aca-enrollment-universal-health-insurance

The COVID Bailout of State and Local Governments Was Unnecessary

” In a new report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that states (including Washington, D.C.) had spent just 45 percent of the funding they had received through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program, a $350 billion line item within the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which passed in March 2021. Local governments had reported spending just 38 percent of their funds received through the same program.”

“”The new GAO study confirms that the ARPA spending was not needed,” Chris Edwards, chair of fiscal studies at the Cato Institute, tells Reason. “By the fall of 2020, it was clear that the states were in good fiscal shape and not facing Armageddon as many policymakers were claiming. They did not need federal handouts.””

“Before the American Rescue Plan passed, there was widespread skepticism about the proposed bailout, in part because three other pandemic-era spending bills had already sent about $360 billion in aid to states and localities.”

“In a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper published in June 2022, a trio of researchers found that pandemic-era aid distributed to state and local governments had cost taxpayers about $855,000 per job saved. The stimulus spending had only “a modest impact on government employment and has not translated into detectable gains for private businesses or for states’ overall economic recoveries,” concluded University of California, San Diego economists Jeffrey Clemens and Philip Hoxie and American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Stan Veuger, the paper’s three authors.”

“Iowa spent $12.5 million of its $4.5 billion cut of the federal bailout on a new baseball stadium near the Field of Dreams movie set. Because that’s an essential public health issue, of course.”

“Michigan “reported spending $25.6 million on a travel marketing and
promotional campaign,” allegedly to “respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism.” Louisiana, meanwhile, reported spending $115 million to construct roads and bridges.

Tourism is nice and roads are in some ways an essential government function, but the emergency COVID spending was meant to help states address an immediate public health crisis—or to offset the costs of it. It’s not at all clear how highway construction was a victim of the pandemic ”

https://reason.com/2023/10/13/the-covid-bailout-of-state-and-local-governments-was-unnecessary/

3 winners and 1 loser from Election Day 2023

“Democrats did well.
Gov. Andy Beshear (D) won reelection in deep-red Kentucky. Democrats seemed set to hold onto the Virginia state Senate and take over the Virginia state House, blocking Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s hopes of passing conservative policies (and perhaps his ambitions in national politics). Meanwhile, Ohio voters enshrined the protection of abortion rights in the state constitution and legalized recreational cannabis.

Strangely, all this happened while President Joe Biden has been getting some of his worst polling numbers yet. As in the 2022 midterms, though, national dissatisfaction with Biden did not lead to a red wave sweeping out Democrats across the country or to wins for conservative policy proposals in ballot initiatives.”

https://www.vox.com/politics/2023/11/8/23951783/election-day-2023-results-analysis-winners-losers-beshear-cameron

GOP states quit the program that fights voter fraud. Now they’re scrambling.

“Over the past year and a half, eight Republican-led states quit a nonpartisan program designed to keep voter rolls accurate and up to date.
Top Republican election officials in those states publicly argued the program was mismanaged. The conspiracy theorists who cheered them on falsely insisted it was a front for liberals to take control of elections.

But experts say the program, known as the Electronic Registration Information Center, was among the best nationwide tool states had to catch people trying to vote twice in the same election. Now, those Republican-led states who left — and other states who lost access to their data — are scrambling to police so-called “double voters” ahead of the presidential election in 2024.”

More States Are Using Science-Backed Reading Instruction. It Shouldn’t Have Taken This Long.

“Since 2013, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana have all passed legislation mandating that teachers be trained in the “science of reading”—methods that typically center around phonics, an approach in which children are taught to read words by decoding the sounds that different letters or groups of letters make. Since these policies’ implementation, reading performance in these states has dramatically improved, even though reading scores there have historically been among the lowest in the nation.”

In State Legislatures, Targeted Bills and Bipartisan Support Were Key To Passing Housing Reforms

“Legislatures in three states—Washington, Montana, and Vermont—passed bills legalizing at least duplexes on almost all residential land. That makes six states that have now eliminated single-family-only zoning.
Washington and Montana also passed a long list of complementary reforms, including bills in both states that streamline housing approvals and let homeowners add accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to their properties.

On the other hand, ambitious omnibus bills that tried to squeeze through most of the YIMBY agenda in one fell swoop failed in Colorado, Arizona, and, most dramatically, New York.

The mixed results are the product of a maturing YIMBY movement that’s willing to take more risks and which has a higher threshold for success, says Salim Furth, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.

“The Overton window really moved on what states can do and our standards were higher for what constitutes a win,” he tells Reason. “We’re looking for bills that would obviously, immediately release a lot of construction activity.””

Maine’s Legislature Passes Bill To Partially Decriminalize Prostitution

“the Maine measure would institute what’s known as “asymmetrical criminalization” or the “Nordic Model” of prostitution laws, a scheme criminalizing people who pay for sex but not totally criminalizing those who sell it. This model has become popular in parts of Europe and among certain strains of U.S. feminists.
But keeping sex work customers criminalized keeps in place many of the harms of total criminalization. The sex industry must still operate underground, which makes it more difficult for sex workers to work safely and independently. Sex workers are still barred from advertising their services. Customers are still reluctant to be screened. And cops still spend time ferreting out and punishing people for consensual sex instead of focusing on sex crimes where someone is actually being victimized.

A recent study of prostitution laws in European countries found full decriminalization or legalization of prostitution linked to lower rape rates, while countries that instituted the Nordic model during the study period saw their rates of sexual violence go up.”