“We find that the demand for pets is affected by liberalization of birth control methods, suggesting a substitutable property of pets for children,” the researchers wrote. “The probability of women affected by abortion legalization owning any pet is 9.6 percentage points higher than for non-affected women.”

They add that women “affected” by abortion legalization spent on average eight minutes more on pets.

Youjin Hahn, one of the paper’s authors, explained to The Daily Caller that they were looking at a question that, “surprisingly,” no other researchers had yet investigated.