Background: More than 30 000 legal abortions are performed every year in Sweden despite sexual education in schools, widespread youth-clinics and family planning services that are free of charge. The aim of this study was to investigate reasons for induced abortion, contraceptive habits and reasons for contraceptive failure among women presenting for induced abortion.
Methods: A questionnaire was administered to 591 Swedish-speaking women consecutively attending three different health care providers concerning an induced abortion during spring 2000.
Results: The response rate was 88% (n = 518). As many as 43%, among daily smokers 53%, had experienced one or more previous legal abortions. The majority of the women (97%) had discussed the decision about abortion with someone. The most cited reasons contributing to their decision were financial concerns, worries about the relationship and bad timing of the pregnancy. Though 85% had used contraception during the previous year, 36% of the women had not used any contraceptive method at the time of conception. The main reason given for not using contraception was the belief that they could not at that time become pregnant (35%). Ninety percent of the women planned to use contraception after the abortion.
Conclusion: Women's decisions regarding induced abortion are multifactorial. One important reason was "poor economy". One out of three did not use any contraception, as they believed they could not become pregnant. Women presenting for induced abortion are a risk-group for further terminations. Counseling must include information about the fertile window, effective contraceptives and the emergency contraceptive pill.