The role of intimate partners in women's reasons for seeking abortion

Womens Health Issues. 2014 Jan-Feb;24(1):e131-8. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2013.10.007.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion Applicants / psychology*
  • Abortion Applicants / statistics & numerical data
  • Abortion, Induced / psychology
  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Coercion*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors