Studies - General Research

Women Having Abortions More Likely to be Abused by Partner (ANZJPH, 4/07)

Published by researchers at La Trobe University in Australia, the study finds that women who are abused by their partners are more likely to have an abortion of an unexpected pregnancy than to keep the baby.

Women having abortions were also more likely to be from lower income families.The researchers studied 9,683 young Australian women between the ages of 22 and 27.

The information came from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health, which contains health data compiled by the government.

Women who had abortions in their teens or early 20s were more likely to have been abused by a partner than those who carried the pregnancy to term, they found.

The scientists published the results of the study in today's edition [3April07] of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

In their article, they wrote, "'Women experiencing violence and abuse can be subject to coercive sex and unprotected intercourse, leading to a higher rate of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies."

Angela Taft and Lyndsey Watson led the study and Taft said that young women appear to have less control over sex or contraception decisions when they're with an abusive partner.

"'You could say that young women don't feel they have the right to say no," she said.

"What can society do about this problem?" Dr. Taft asks.

"The take home message is that if we want to reduce the rate of abortion and unwanted pregnancy in Australia, especially among teenagers, we need to reduce violence against women."

"Also healthcare providers and pregnancy counseling services should ask women seeking [abortions] about their experiences of partner abuse and if necessary, refer them to supportive agencies," she added.

The study backs up the contention made by research in the United States that an inordinate number of women who have abortions do so because they feel pressure or coercion from a husband or boyfriend.

Dr. David Reardon of the Elliot Institute says they are a part of a widespread problem.
Reardon is the co-author of a recent 2006 Medical Science Monitor study of American and Russian women that found that 64 percent of American women who had abortions reported that they felt pressured to abort by others.

His organization, which monitors the effects of abortion on women, has also prepared special research previously showing cases of violence against women who refused to have abortions.

Reardon said that cases of women being pressured, threatened, or subjected to violence if they refuse to abort are not unusual.

"In many of the cases documented for our 'Forced Abortion in America' report, police and witnesses reported that acts of violence and murder took place after the woman refused to abort or because the attacker didn't want the pregnancy," he said.

"Even if a woman isn't physically threatened, she often faces intense pressure, abandonment, lack of support, or emotional blackmail if she doesn't abort," Dr. Reardon explained. "While abortion is often described as a 'choice,' women who've been there tell a very different story."

Reardon said the report underscores the need for legislation requiring abortion businesses and health care providers to screen women for evidence of coercion or pressure to abort and to direct them to people and resources that can help them.

A handful of states, including Michigan, have looked at such legislation.

Free copies of the special report, "Forced Abortion in America," and fact sheets on coerced and forced abortions can be downloaded at http://www.unchoice.info/resources.htm.
[3April 2007, Ertelt, LifeNews.com, Canberra, Australia]