Reasons why women seek abortion – factors women consider before deciding on an abortion
The decision of an abortion is not an easy one. Yet, it is important under certain circumstances due to concerns regarding her physical as well as mental health.
In circumstances where an abortion is to be performed, it is equally essential that it is done in a manner where the woman’s health isn’t compromised. Certified MTP centres ensure that every abortion performed is a safe abortion procedure.
Factors influencing abortion:
Looking into the sensitivity of abortion as a decision, it is necessary to identify the influencing factors. Knowing the factors will make it easier for women to have safe abortion by giving them access to Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC).
Decision-making about the termination of pregnancy starts with a positive pregnancy test. Whether to abort, where to abort and the expected as well as unexpected consequences all revolve around access to safe abortion.
Have you ever had an abortion or are looking to have an abortion? If yes, what is the gestation age if you are planning an abortion or what was it when you had an abortion?
Let us look at the factors influencing abortion decision-making.
We can also differentiate between the factors leading to safe abortion from the factors leading to unsafe abortions.
- Unwanted pregnancy: Pregnancies that are outcomes of contraceptive failure or of cruel acts like that of rape and incest are unwanted. Such women in India have limited autonomy. When the decision of abortion is made for personal reasons by family members or partners, the woman’s choice may not be evaluated.
Social stigma and various known and unknown fears often compel such women to resort to secret abortions. Such abortions are usually unhygienic, unprofessional, illegal and hence, unsafe. But, the MTP Act, 2020 opened the gateway to safe abortions for unwanted pregnancies under certain circumstances. Unmarried women can now choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy due to contraceptive failure.
If women have access to CAC, they can get their pregnancies terminated for personal reasons. Some of these may include past experience, the existence of another child/children, financial concerns and career barriers. Many women or their partners are not ready for a new responsibility due to the disruption of education or employment.
Fear of being judged by the healthcare providers and privacy is another major interpersonal concern. The confidentiality concern can be overcome by an organized and open conversation between women seeking abortions and the MTP providers. Certified MTP centres develop a sense of trust and confidentiality with their patients so that the procedure can be conducted safely.
- Gestation age: Generally, the lower the gestation age, the lower the complexity of the abortion procedure. Safety concerns increase with an increase in the length of pregnancy. Looking into the complications of unsafe abortions and keeping women’s health as the prime concern, methods employed for abortion procedure vary for varied pregnancy terms. There are three recommended methods of abortion. These are Medical abortion, Vacuum aspiration and Dilatation & evacuation. Each abortion method is based on individual case studies and respective risks involved. As per the latest MTP Act, 2020 in India, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks of gestation under certain circumstances.
- Fetal anomalies: Abortion is the hardest decision for a woman and her family when it is sought due to detected fetal anomalies. This would mean that the child, when born, will have severe physical or mental abnormality. The decision is difficult for the family since the pregnancy for them is wanted. This stage is equally challenging for the operating doctor. Since these abnormalities are diagnosed in the second trimester, the probability of complications is higher. And surgical intervention is the only method of abortion available as the choice. It is important to note that if the abortion procedure at this stage is not carried out at a certified MTP centre, the consequences can be grave.
However, some anomalies show up a little earlier. Abnormalities like the absence of cardiac activity can be detected as early as 6-7 weeks of gestation. In such cases, the medical method of abortion can also be utilized if the gestation age is up to 6 weeks.
There may be events like ectopic pregnancies. They need to be identified and terminated at the earliest to protect the reproductive health of women carrying such pregnancies.
- Current health status: Prevailing physical as well as mental health of the woman to be able to bear and raise a child is a big challenge that can influence the abortion decision. In events where women get pregnant at an early age such as teenage, health is a major concern. Such women may or may not be in a healthy state of bearing through the pregnancy and the childbirth.
- Marital status: If the marital status is single at the time of getting pregnant, challenges involved in raising the child as a single mother and the social stigma play a massive role. And most such women seek abortion as a rescue. It is easy for married women to opt for medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) as a part of their reproductive rights. With the introduction of the amended MTP Act in India in 2020 with a broadened scope, a major switch from unsafe to safe abortions is expected even for unmarried women.
- Economic status: Today, the economic status of a family is a big deciding factor to keep a check on increasing members. Many couples try to constrain their families due to rising expenses. Fear of not being able to give the child good health, education and life influence abortion as a decision. When the fear of raising the child efficiently due to economic constraints overrides other factors, abortions are sought.
- Support system: When women seek abortion for unwanted pregnancies, partner and family support become their strength. Most of these abortions are safe since a supporting family prioritizes the woman’s health. On the other hand, where women cannot exercise their consent and will, they are vulnerable to pressures for abortions. Most abortions of this kind are unsafe as families tend to keep them as secret as possible. Support system becomes the most important influence at the interpersonal level while seeking an abortion.
One reason for an unwanted pregnancy that has come up often is the relationship problem between the mother and the father of the child. There have been cases where after filing for a divorce, the pregnancy test comes positive.
Without the child’s father’s support, not all women prefer to evolve as single mothers. While a healthy relationship between partners creates a healthy ambiance, even if an abortion is sought. Such abortions tend to be safe with support.
- Societal determinants: Various norms in society can influence abortion as a decision. These may include marital status, and age at conception, acts such as rape or even extra-marital relationships. They all have a stigma revolving around them that creates a fear of social deprivation. Due to a mix of physical and mental pressures, women tend to proceed with unsafe abortions.
- Providers: Abortion as a decision stands nowhere without trained and certified professionals to perform the procedure. The certified and accredited centres with trained professional staff are fully equipped to ensure safe abortions. The certifying authorities keep a regular check on certified centres so that they meet and keep up the standards for being recognized as MTP centres.
The lack of certified MTP centres open pitfalls for unsafe abortions. Sex education and the laws governing abortion are two other important influencers for safe abortions in India. In India, the abortion law has been amended time and again to eliminate the gap existing between safe and unsafe abortions.
- Lack of knowledge: Lack of knowledge is one of the biggest concerns that shape the decision of abortion. Awareness about abortion as a legal procedure, risks involved and complications that can arise due to unsafe abortions cause educated women to seek safe abortions.
Women who lack sufficient knowledge of all the aspects relating to abortions tend to fall victim to unsafe abortions. To most of the women seeking an abortion, it is a surgical procedure without any safety norms. They cannot differentiate between safe abortions and unsafe abortions.
We have come across many women who cannot even tell whether the abortion they had in the past was safe or unsafe. If you ever had an abortion, can you recognize whether it was safe or unsafe? And did you suffer any complication after that? If yes, please feel free to share what it was and how it affected your life. A considerable number of women mentioned having suffered post-abortion complications. This is what safe abortions tend to avoid and minimize.
Their fears and risks can be addressed only by proper counselling and providing them with the needed knowledge of the subject. Many people do not know that abortions are categorized as safe and unsafe depending upon the procedure involved in terminating the pregnancy. Neither do they know that not all centers are approved for providing abortion services, nor do they realize the medical standards that need to be met for a safe abortion procedure in India.
- Panic: Some women and/or their partners panic when they find out that the woman is pregnant. For them, it is unexpected and this happens in most cases of contraceptive failure where they are unable to accept that contraceptives can fail. Again due to lack of knowledge and out of panic, they seek abortion as early as possible. To them, it incorrectly appears that there is a long wait and a long procedure with a lot of documentation at certified centres. To shorten the length of days and get an abortion done as soon as possible to avoid any delay, in haste such couples may seek abortions out of the legal healthcare system.
In most of the cases, no single factor is the deciding factor for an abortion. The decision is complex and generally involves multiple elements contributing to the outcome. But for every individual, one or two of all the existing factors become prominent and become the decisive factors influencing their abortion decision.
Contrasting factors that arise in deciding between unsafe abortions and safe abortions
If you ever had an abortion, what was the deciding factor?
Whatsoever may have been an influencing factor in your decision, you need to choose the best facility for the abortion procedure. It has been seen that well-educated and well-informed people are concerned about their health and they tend to choose opinions best suited to their health.
Here, we refer to the knowledge concerning health, safety issues, hygiene, pre to post-abortion care, the dos and the don’ts, reproductive rights, and legal aspects.
On the other hand, people with insufficient knowledge hesitate to question even when it comes to their health and safety. Such people are reluctant to visit certified MTP centres and may fall for the selfish motives of quacks and illegal centres. Adequate knowledge of safety and legal aspects governing reproductive rights of women is a ray of hope. It is essential for physical and mental health and also for the social position of women.
Abortion care starts before the procedure and lasts till late after the procedure until complete recovery. Long-term health depends on safe abortions. AbortionHospital.com provides patients from around India and the world access to a certified MTP centre that can provide you with the best abortion care in India.
At the Abortion Hospital, we conduct every abortion in compliance with CAC (Comprehensive Abortion Care) guidelines prescribed by the WHO (World Health Organization) and make it a safe procedure. Our prime motive is to provide the best treatment to our patients regardless of any judgmental concerns.
All the abortion procedures are carried out by our experienced gynecologist and medical team in a safe and confidential manner so the patient can experience the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they will be safe and recover well.