Alauna Safarpour, NULab-Affiliated Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, recently published an article in The Conversation about why abortion laws in the US often do not reflect majority opinion. The article, co-authored with Matthew A Baum and Kristin Lunz Trujillo, is a follow-up to the group’s previously published research on the subject, and is this time focused on the legislative and electoral mechanics surrounding the issue.
These mechanics are split into four categories: gerrymandering, low and uneven voter turnout, the design of American political institutions, and geographic polarization between rural and urban communities. Safarpour et.al argue that these four phenomena, individually and jointly, undermine the ability for public opinion to be accurately reflected in federal and state legislation. Starting with the differing legislative outcomes on abortion between Kansas and Indiana, the article then presents a broader view, tackling how these mechanics affect the whole country. To Safarpour and her colleagues, abortion ultimately proves to be just one of many contentious topics which highlight a growing trend of institutional failure.