Data from the 1998-99 National Family Health Survey (NFHS2) of India are used to examine the net effects of social and demographic characteristics of women on the likelihood of abortion while emphasizing important differences between women from northern and southern states. A north-south comparison illustrates that southern women have relatively higher levels of literacy and labour force participation, lower levels of son preference, and smaller family size. Results from logistic regression analyses show that literacy, type of work, belonging to a scheduled caste or tribe, urban residence, standard of living, parity, religion, age, age at union and contraceptive behaviour all have significant effects on the likelihood of abortion. However, most of these effects significantly differ for southern and northern women. Moreover, the effects of agricultural work, son preference and age at union on the likelihood of abortion are significant for northern but not southern women.