Women’s Reasons for Having an Abortion

Why do women in the United States have abortions? An analysis published in Perspectives in 2005 used a mixed-methods approach to examine this question—a topic that had not been investigated for nearly 20 years. In the study, researchers from the Guttmacher Institute compared quantitative data from 2004 and 1987 surveys, and found that the main reasons women cited for ending pregnancies were the same in both: Having a baby would dramatically interfere with their education, work or ability to care for their dependents, or they could not afford a baby at the time. In addition, qualitative data from in-depth interviews portrayed women who had had an abortion as typically feeling that they had no other choice, given their limited resources and existing responsibilities to others. This innovative study has had an important impact on the literature, having been cited in more than 125 articles as of this writing.

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Family Planning Perspectives may be accessed through Wiley Online Library (2003–) and JSTOR (1969–2011).

Cover illustrations of Margaret Sanger © Matthew and Eve Levine

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