Repeat abortions: blaming the victims

Am J Public Health. 1979 Dec;69(12):1242-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.69.12.1242.


A study of 1,505 women obtaining abortions in a freestanding abortion clinic in Western New York state revealed that women having repeat abortions were more likely to be using contraception at the time of conception than women having first abortions. However, nearly one-half the non-contracepting repeaters were not contracepting at the time of the repeat pregnancy. Repeaters who were not contracepting at the time of the repeat pregnancy listed medical contraindications or lack of supplies as the major reasons for not contracepting at the time of the present conception--indicating that they had tried one or more methods since their first abortion. Repeaters were sexually more active than first timers, thus increasing their statistical risk of unwanted pregnancy even as they contracepted more than first timers. The data indicate that both first timers and repeaters overwhelmingly reject the premise that abortion is a primary or even a back-up birth control method. The essential difficulty for repeaters appears to be that they are victims of technological, organizational, and logistical inadequacies as well as statistical probabilities rather than being motivationally deficient or indifferent to the dangers of unprotected sexual intercourse.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Contraception / methods*
  • Contraception Behavior
  • Demography
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Family Planning Services*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • New York
  • Personality
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unwanted
  • Surveys and Questionnaires