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Stud Fam Plann. 1992 Sep-Oct;23(5):325-9.

Abortions in a hospital setting: hidden realities in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Muhimbili Medical Centre, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


This study investigates the extent of unwanted pregnancy, the use of illegally induced abortion, and the attitudes toward and practice of contraception among women admitted to a hospital with the diagnosis of abortion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (In Tanzania, induced abortion is permitted only to save the mother's life.) A random sample of 300 women with early pregnancy loss admitted to Muhimbili Medical Centre, the teaching hospital in Dar es Salaam, were interviewed between September and November 1987, using a structured questionnaire. Among the 300 respondents, 155 said that their pregnancy had been unwanted: 94 of them presented with an illegally induced abortion and 61 with a spontaneous abortion. The number of spontaneous abortions of unwanted pregnancies increased with age and stability in a relationship. Having a small child to look after and having completed the family were the most common reasons for the pregnancy to be unwanted in this group. Induced abortion was more a problem of the young, unmarried woman. The 61 women with spontaneous abortion but unwanted pregnancy suggest that a much larger group of pregnant women continue to term with what are, at least initially, unwanted pregnancies--precisely the group of women family planning programs want to reach. The low prevalence of contraceptive use in this group indicates the failure of family planning clinics to motivate their target group. Recommendations are made for improved functioning of family planning clinics.

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