Around one in six have had an abortion by their mid-30s; according to our new research published today in the Australia New Zealand Journal of Public Health. Narratives about abortion often stigmatize women who have had one or seek to access to one. But our research shows; women from all walks of life may have an abortion: married, single, child-free, and mothers. In fact; women who have already had children are more likely to have a termination than those who have not.
Abortion in the context
Women make decisions about whether or not to have an abortion in the context of their complex lives. And it’s by no means an easy decision. Our research investigated the factors associated with abortion as women move from their late teens into their mid-30s. They found women with lower levels of control over their reproductive health, whether through family violence; drug use or ineffective contraception; are more likely than their peers to terminate a pregnancy.
If They want to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies and abortion in Australia; need to empower women to have control over their fertility and support them with appropriate health services. they used data from five surveys of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health to examine factors associated with “induced” abortions which were not undertaken because of a fetal abnormality.
They looked at a cohort of more than 9,000 women born between 1973-78 who were first surveyed at ages 18-23 years. At the fifth survey, they were aged 31-36 years. Overall, by their mid-30s, 16% of the women in this study had reported at least one abortion. They also looked at the proportion of women who reported a new abortion at each survey. At the first survey; when women were aged 18-23; 7% reported having had an abortion. In subsequent surveys; 2-3% of women reported having an abortion since the last survey.
One New Abortion
While most women reported only one new abortion, around one in ten reported two abortions, and around 2% reported three abortions. Australia is going through a much-needed process of law reform to ensure women across the country have access to abortions as part of their women’s health service. Queensland is the most recent state to remove abortion from the criminal code.
Alongside this, they need to improve training and resources to for health providers to identify and help women who may be at risk of unintended pregnancy; particularly those who are using illicit drugs or are experiencing partner violence. They need better ways of reaching all vulnerable women, but especially young women experiencing reproductive coercion.
Also, need to ensure that all women are provided with good access to information about effective contraceptive choices. While the oral contraceptive pill and condoms are the most common methods Australian women use; long-acting reversible methods (such as intra-uterine devices and implants) can good options for many women wanting effective contraception.