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Soc Sci Med. 2001 Dec;53(11):1481-90.

Legal abortion: a painful necessity.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Umeå University, University Hospital, Sweden.


This study was conducted to increase knowledge about the psychosocial background and current living conditions of Swedish women seeking abortion, along with their motives for abortion and their feelings towards pregnancy and abortion. Two hundred and eleven women answered a questionnaire when they consulted the gynaecologist for the first time. The study indicates that legal abortion may be sought by women in many circumstances and is not confined to those in special risk groups. For example, most women in the sample were living in stable relationships with adequate finances. The motives behind a decision to postpone or limit the number of children revealed a wish to have children with the right partner and at the right time in order to combine good parenting with professional career. The study shows that prevailing expectations about lifestyle render abortion a necessity in family planning. One-third of the women had had a previous abortion(s) and 12% had become pregnant in a situation where they had felt pressured or threatened by the man. Two-thirds of the women characterised their initial feelings towards the pregnancy solely in painful words while nearly all the others reported contradictory feelings. Concerning feelings towards the coming abortion, more than half expressed both positive and painful feelings such as anxiety, relief, grief, guilt, anguish, emptiness and responsibility, while one-third expressed only painful feelings. However, almost 70% stated that nothing could change their decision to have an abortion. Thus, this study highlights that contradictory feelings in relation to both pregnancy and the coming abortion are common but are very seldom associated with doubts about the decision to have an abortion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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