Most Women Obtaining Abortions Report Their Partners Know of and Support Their Decision

Women in Long-Term Relationships More Likely to Have Supportive Partners; Those Who Have Experienced Intimate Partner Violence Least Likely

The overwhelming majority of women obtaining abortions in the United States (82%) report that the men by whom they got pregnant knew about the abortion, and nearly eight in 10 perceived these men to be supportive. A new analysis of data from the Guttmacher Institute’s 2008 survey of women obtaining abortions suggests that most women are able to rely on their partners for support, which previous research has shown improves women’s postabortion well-being.

"Perceptions of Male Knowledge and Support Among U.S. Women Obtaining Abortions," by Rachel K. Jones et al., of the Guttmacher Institute finds that nearly nine in 10 women who are cohabiting or married report that their partner knew about their abortion (88% and 87%, respectively) and that he was supportive (82% and 87%). By contrast, 72% of divorced and separated women reported that their partner knew and 66% said that he was supportive. Additionally, women in long-term relationships were more likely than those not in a relationship or in a relationship of less than one year to report both that their partner knew and that he was supportive. Only 12% of women reported that they had not been in a relationship with the man who got them pregnant, but a majority of these women reported that he still knew about the pregnancy and that he was supportive (61% and 64%).

"It’s encouraging that so many women feel supported in their decision to terminate a pregnancy, since such support is important to their well-being," says Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute. "We were also pleased to find that even among women who were not in a long-term relationship, more than 60% had talked to the men about the abortion and perceived them to be supportive."

The study also found that 7% of abortion patients reported exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) by the man involved in the pregnancy. These women were substantially less likely than women who had not experienced IPV to report that their partners knew about the abortion (62% vs. 84%) or to perceive that he was supportive (49% vs. 81%). Moreover, women with abusive partners who knew about the abortion were significantly more likely to perceive that these men were not supportive of their decision (25%) compared with women not exposed to IPV (8%). The authors suggest that screening for intimate partner violence at the time of the abortion may help providers connect women with counseling services and shelters.

"Perceptions of Male Knowledge and Support Among U.S. Women Obtaining Abortions," by Rachel K. Jones et al., of the Guttmacher Institute is currently available online and will appear in the March issue of Women’s Health Issues.

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