Violence in the lives of women in Italy who have an elective abortion

Womens Health Issues. 2009 Sep-Oct;19(5):335-43. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2009.07.004.


Background: Violence is an important health problem for pregnant women, with numerous studies showing that it may compromise maternal and infant health. Many women who seek an elective abortion (EA) live in difficult personal and social circumstances, in which violence often has a central role, yet few studies have analyzed the relationships between violence and having an EA.

Objectives: To analyze the role of family and partner violence among women seeking an EA, exploring the role of women's age, and controlling for sociodemographic factors.

Methods: An unmatched, case-control study was carried out in the Trieste Public Hospital, including all consecutive EAs (n=445) and live births (n=438). With an anonymous questionnaire, we collected information on sociodemographic characteristics, current violence (psychological, physical, and sexual) perpetrated by a partner or by other family members, and past violence.

Results: Compared with postpartum women, EA women were significantly more likely to report any type of current and past violence. Among women younger than 30 years old, adjusting for relevant social factors, partner psychological violence and family violence were strongly associated with EA, whereas among women 30 years old or older, there was no association with partner and family violence after adjustment.

Conclusion: These results highlight the role of violence in the lives of women, especially younger women, seeking an abortion, and the need for sensitive screening for partner and family violence among these women. Health professionals should be able to recognize violence among women seeking an EA and to support them.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence* / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult