Original article| Volume 23, ISSUE 4, e239-e247, July 2013

Connecting Knowledge about Abortion and Sexual and Reproductive Health to Belief about Abortion Restrictions: Findings from an Online Survey



      The objective of this research was to examine individuals' knowledge about abortion in the context of their knowledge about other sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues, including contraception, abortion, pregnancy, and birth.


      During August 2012, we administered an online questionnaire to a randomly selected sample of 639 men and women of reproductive age (18–44 years) in the United States.


      Respondents reported the highest levels of perceived knowledge about SRH in general (81%), followed by pregnancy and birth (53%), contraception (48%), and abortion (35%); knowledge of specific items within each of these areas paralleled this pattern. Respondents who believe that abortion should be allowed in at least some circumstances were more likely to be correct regarding the safety and consequences of contraception and abortion. Characteristics associated with higher levels of knowledge regarding abortion-related issues included having higher levels of knowledge about non–abortion-related SRH issues and having less restrictive abortion beliefs.


      Women and men are not well-informed about the relative safety and consequences of SRH-related experiences. Many overestimate their knowledge, and personal beliefs about abortion restrictions may influence their knowledge about the safety and consequences of abortion and contraception. Providers of SRH services should provide comprehensive evidence-based information about the risks and consequences of SRH matters during consultations, particularly in the case of abortion providers serving women who hold more restrictive abortion beliefs.
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      Megan L. Kavanaugh, DrPH, is a Senior Research Associate at the Guttmacher Institute, New York, New York. Her research portfolio has focused on unintended pregnancy, contraceptive use, post-abortion contraception, and attitudes about abortion.


      Danielle Bessett, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio. Her research interests are in medical and family sociology, focusing on sexual and reproductive health issues and inequality.


      Lisa Littman, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine with joint appointments in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science. Her research interests include maternal, child, and reproductive health.


      Alison Norris, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at The Ohio State University. She studies sexual and reproductive health with a particular focus on decision making, stigmatized behaviors, and improving the health and well-being of vulnerable people.

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      • Erratum
        Women's Health IssuesVol. 23Issue 5
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          Refers to: Connecting Knowledge about Abortion and Sexual and Reproductive Health to Belief about Abortion Restrictions: Findings from an Online Survey, Women's Health Issues 23-4 (2013) page e245, Megan L. Kavanaugh, DrPH, Danielle Bessett, PhD, Lisa L. Littman, MD, MPH, Alison Norris, MD, PhD.
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