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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Abortion: findings from women and men participating in the Understanding Fertility Management in contemporary Australia national survey

Heather Rowe A G , Sara Holton A , Maggie Kirkman A , Christine Bayly B , Lynne Jordan C , Kathleen McNamee C D , John McBain E , Vikki Sinnott F and Jane Fisher A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Jean Hailes Research Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Level 2, 553 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Vic. 3004, Australia.

B The Royal Women’s Hospital, 20 Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.

C Family Planning Victoria, 901 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill, Vic. 3128, Australia.

D Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Monash University, Clayton, Vic. 3168, Australia.

E Melbourne IVF, 344 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, Vic. 3002, Australia.

F Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3000, Australia.

G Corresponding author. Email: heather.rowe@monash.edu

Sexual Health 14(6) 566-573 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH17004
Submitted: 9 January 2017  Accepted: 8 May 2017   Published: 22 June 2017

Abstract

Background: There are few reliable Australian abortion data. The aim was to investigate prevalence, sexual experiences and socioeconomic characteristics of women and men who report having had or being a partner in an abortion. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of women and men aged 18–50 years randomly selected from the Australian Electoral Roll was used. Weighted multivariable analyses were conducted. Results: Data from 2235 returned (of 15 480) mailed surveys were analysed. One in six women and one in 10 men had experienced or been a partner in an abortion. In adjusted analyses, for women, experience of sexual coercion [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 2.18, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.46, 3.24] was associated with significantly increased odds of abortion, and socioeconomic advantage (AOR = 0.57; 95% CI 0.39, 0.84), being comfortable negotiating contraceptive use (AOR 0.26; 95% CI 0.09, 0.73) and importance of religion in fertility choices (AOR = 0.55; 95% CI 0.35, 0.87) were associated with significantly reduced odds. For men, sexual coercion (AOR = 3.05; 95% CI 1.51, 6.18) and metropolitan residence (AOR = 1.70; 95% CI 1.06, 2.75) significantly increased the odds of reporting being a partner in an abortion. Conclusions: The findings contribute to scarce information about abortion in Australia. The high prevalence of abortion suggests that effective contraceptive counselling and accessible contraception services are not sufficient, and that there is a continuing need for universal pregnancy advice and abortion services. The association between sexual coercion and abortion warrants further investigation.

Additional keywords: gender, pregnancy termination, reproductive health, social determinants, termination of pregnancy.


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