Partner violence is the strongest predictive factor of whether young women with unwanted pregnancies will choose to terminate, a study by La Trobe University has found.
The study of 9,683 young Australian women aged 22 to 27 found that those reporting either teenage abortions or abortions later in their 20s, were more than three times as likely to have been abused by a partner as those who didn?t terminate.
The study also found that young Australian women who terminated pregnancies were more likely to be disadvantaged ? from low-income families, less-educated and not privately insured.
The secondary analysis of data from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women?s Health, by Angela Taft and Lyndsey Watson, of Mother and Child Health Research, La Trobe University, was published today in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. It seeks to fill a national gap in abortion statistics, by describing the characteristics of young Australian women who terminate pregnancies.
?Women experiencing violence and abuse can be subject to coercive sex and unprotected intercourse, leading to a higher rate of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies,? say the authors.
Dr Taft says that young women may have little control over sex or contraception in abusive relationships. ?You could say that young women don?t feel they have the right to say no.?
?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 counselling services should ask women seeking terminations about their experiences of partner abuse and if necessary, refer them to supportive agencies.?