Ambivalence among women applying for abortion

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1995 Nov;74(10):813-7. doi: 10.3109/00016349509021203.


Background: Our purpose was to characterize women expressing ambivalence when applying for abortion.

Material and methods: Data were collected, by self-administered questionnaires, from 339 women. Thirty percent were in doubt about the decision when the abortion was due. Socio-economic factors more often influenced the choice among ambivalent women than among those not in any doubt.

Results: Ambivalent women more often felt exposed to social pressure and some felt that the abortion was not their own choice. Their decision-making was marked by doubt during the entire process.

Conclusions: There is a need for professional support during this decision-making process. Many of the ambivalent women stated that their decision might not have been the same under different personal circumstances.

PIP: A survey of 339 Danish abortion seekers, conducted 2 days before the procedure, indicated that ambivalence is a widespread phenomenon. 103 (30%) women revealed, in a self-administered questionnaire, that they were still in doubt as to whether abortion was the right decision for them. These women did not differ from their non-ambivalent counterparts in terms of age, parity, or marital status. Whereas non-ambivalent women were most likely to cite "enough children" as the main reason for pregnancy termination, ambivalent subjects identified personal finances, occupational/educational concerns, and social pressure. Notable was the finding that, before the index pregnancy, only 23% of the ambivalent subjects compared to 73% of non-ambivalent women thought they would choose abortion in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Only 70% of male partners in the ambivalent group compared to 82% in the non-ambivalent group agreed to abortion; moreover, the decision to terminate the pregnancy was made by the male partner in 16% of cases in the former group compared to only 1% in the latter group. Finally, 36% of the ambivalent women felt they had not received adequate information from their physician about their legal rights should they choose to continue with the pregnancy, and 47% indicated they would have changed their decision given different personal circumstances, including partner support or improved socioeconomic conditions. Counseling of abortion seekers is essential to reduce the element of doubt in the decision making process and mitigate post-abortion depression and regret.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion Applicants*
  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Abortion, Legal*
  • Adult
  • Decision Making
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires