The Role of Intimate Partners in Women's Reasons for Seeking Abortion

  • Karuna S. Chibber
    Correspondence
    Correspondence to: Karuna S. Chibber, DrPH, Public Health Social Scientist, University of California San Francisco, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, 1330 Broadway, Suite 1100, Oakland, CA 94612. Phone: 510-986-8963; fax: 510-986-8960.
    Affiliations
    Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), University of California San Francisco, Oakland, California
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  • M. Antonia Biggs
    Affiliations
    Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), University of California San Francisco, Oakland, California

    Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California
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  • Sarah C.M. Roberts
    Affiliations
    Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), University of California San Francisco, Oakland, California
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  • Diana Greene Foster
    Affiliations
    Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), University of California San Francisco, Oakland, California
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      Abstract

      Purpose

      The literature on partners and abortion focuses on intimate partner violence (IPV) and risk for abortion, and partners' control of women's abortion decisions. This paper examines how partners figure in women's abortion decisions, and identifies factors associated with identifying partner as a reason (PAR) for abortion.

      Methods

      Baseline data were used from the Turnaway Study, a longitudinal study among women (n = 954) seeking abortion at 30 U.S. facilities between 2008 and 2010. Mixed methods were used. Data were analyzed using thematic coding and logistic regression.

      Findings

      Nearly one third of women reported PAR for abortion. Three most common partner-related reasons were poor relationships, partners unable/unwilling to support a baby, and partner characteristics that made them undesirable to have a baby with. Eight percent who mentioned PAR identified having abusive partners as a reason for abortion. One woman in this subgroup reported being pressured by her partner to seek abortion, whereas others in this subgroup sought abortion to end abusive relationships or to avoid bringing children into abusive relationships. Factors associated with identifying PAR for seeking abortion included race, education, partner's pregnancy intentions, relationship with man involved in the pregnancy, and experience of IPV.

      Conclusion

      Women make decisions to terminate pregnancies considering the quality of the relationship with and potential support they will receive from the man involved. Even women who report IPV, who may be vulnerable to coercion, report their motivation for the abortion is to end an abusive relationship, rather than coercion into abortion.
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      Biography

      Karuna S. Chibber, DrPH, is a public health social scientist with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. Her research focuses on the intersection of intimate partner violence and women's health.

      Biography

      M. Antonia Biggs, PhD, is a senior researcher at the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. Her research focuses on the evaluation of reproductive health programs, access to family planning services, abortion, and unintended pregnancy.

      Biography

      Sarah C.M. Roberts, DrPH, is a public health social scientist at ANSIRH. She studies policy and social determinants of women's health, with a focus on alcohol and drug use in the context of pregnancy, parenting, and reproductive health.

      Biography

      Diana Greene Foster, PhD, a demographer, is the principal investigator of the Turnaway Study, Director of Research at ANSIRH, and an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at UCSF.