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Understanding why women seek abortions in the US

  • Author(s): Biggs, M
  • Gould, Heather
  • Foster, Diana
  • et al.
Abstract

Abstract Background The current political climate with regards to abortion in the US, along with the economic recession may be affecting women’s reasons for seeking abortion, warranting a new investigation into the reasons why women seek abortion. Methods Data for this study were drawn from baseline quantitative and qualitative data from the Turnaway Study, an ongoing, five-year, longitudinal study evaluating the health and socioeconomic consequences of receiving or being denied an abortion in the US. While the study has followed women for over two full years, it relies on the baseline data which were collected from 2008 through the end of 2010. The sample included 954 women from 30 abortion facilities across the US who responded to two open ended questions regarding the reasons why they wanted to terminate their pregnancy approximately one week after seeking an abortion. Results Women’s reasons for seeking an abortion fell into 11 broad themes. The predominant themes identified as reasons for seeking abortion included financial reasons (40%), timing (36%), partner related reasons (31%), and the need to focus on other children (29%). Most women reported multiple reasons for seeking an abortion crossing over several themes (64%). Using mixed effects multivariate logistic regression analyses, we identified the social and demographic predictors of the predominant themes women gave for seeking an abortion. Conclusions Study findings demonstrate that the reasons women seek abortion are complex and interrelated, similar to those found in previous studies. While some women stated only one factor that contributed to their desire to terminate their pregnancies, others pointed to a myriad of factors that, cumulatively, resulted in their seeking abortion. As indicated by the differences we observed among women’s reasons by individual characteristics, women seek abortion for reasons related to their circumstances, including their socioeconomic status, age, health, parity and marital status. It is important that policy makers consider women’s motivations for choosing abortion, as decisions to support or oppose such legislation could have profound effects on the health, socioeconomic outcomes and life trajectories of women facing unwanted pregnancies.

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