Pathways to abortion among married and unmarried young women in India

Shireen J. Jejeebhoy, Population Council
Shveta Kalyanwala, Population Council
AJ Francis Zavier, Population Council
Rajesh Kumar, Population Council

Little is known about the factors underlying abortion-seeking among unmarried adolescents in India. Available evidence suggests, however, that they are particularly vulnerable. This paper compares the experiences of unmarried and married young abortion-seekers (aged 15-24) who reported no previous pregnancies or live births and explores the different pathways to abortion that they followed. Data come from a study undertaken in facilities in Bihar and Jharkhand, poorly developed states with weak health systems. Findings highlight that the unmarried were more likely than the married to delay the decision to seek abortion and to undergo second trimester abortion. They were also less likely to confide in anyone, including the partner, about the pregnancy, obtained less support during the abortion process, were more likely to have sought home remedies prior to reaching the abortion facility, and were more likely to cite confidentiality as a leading reason for determining choice of facility.

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Presented in Session 22: Abortion in India