Journal Article

Abortion experiences of unmarried young women in India: Evidence from a facility-based study in Bihar and Jharkhand

Context
Little is known about the experiences of unmarried young women in India who seek to terminate an unintended pregnancy.

Methods
A survey was conducted among 549 unmarried women aged 15–24 who had obtained an abortion in 2007–2008 at one of 16 clinics run by the nongovernmental organization Janani in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand. Differences in background characteristics, and in obstacles to obtaining an abortion, between those who had an abortion in the first trimester and those who did so in the second trimester were compared, and logistic regression analysis identified associations between these factors and obtaining a second-trimester abortion.

Results
Eighty-three percent of women realized they were pregnant within the first two months of their pregnancy, and 91% within the first trimester. Eighty-four percent decided before the end of the first trimester to have an abortion, but only 75% obtained one in this period. One in six participants said that pregnancy had resulted from a nonconsensual sexual encounter, and such reports were more frequent among those who obtained a second-trimester abortion. Women who were older or who had more schooling had a decreased likelihood of having a second-trimester abortion (odds ratios, 0.9 each), whereas those who lived in rural areas, those who did not receive full support from their partners and those who reported a forced encounter had an increased likelihood of having a late abortion (2.3–4.1).

Conclusions
Sex education programs that highlight the importance of recognizing a pregnancy early in gestation, and of obtaining an early abortion if a pregnancy is unwanted, are needed for unmarried young women and men.