Reasons U.S. Women Choose Abortion

Lawrence B. Finer, The Alan Guttmacher Institute
Lori Frohwirth, The Alan Guttmacher Institute
Lindsay Dauphinee, The Alan Guttmacher Institute

Little recent national-level information has been collected on the reasons women give for choosing to terminate their pregnancies, and as the abortion rate has declined over the past 15 years, a new examination of these reasons may help to develop policies and programs to improve women’s ability to prevent unplanned pregnancy. In 2003, we surveyed 1,209 women at 11 abortion providers and completed in-depth interviews with 38 women. The most common reasons given for having an abortion were “Having a baby would dramatically change my life” (74% of respondents) and “I can’t afford a baby now” (73%). The frequency with which women gave common reasons was similar to that in a 1987 survey on the same topics. A factor analysis identified several key dimensions of women’s decision-making. Additional analyzes to be completed include examination of the qualitative data collected and the relationship between reasons given and reported difficulties obtaining abortions.

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Presented in Session 101: Reproductive Health in Developed Countries