Family ties: household influences on women’s decisions to attempt abortions in Madhya Pradesh, India

Jeffrey Edmeades, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Kerry MacQuarrie, University of Washington
Laura Nyblade, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

A substantial body of literature documents the lack of decision-making power women in India have regarding their reproductive behavior, with husbands and mother-in-laws largely dominating reproductive decisions. In this study, we examine the role of other household members on the decision to attempt abortion in Madhya Pradesh, India. We take advantage of a uniquely detailed dataset that includes information on every pregnancy experienced by 2,444 women aged 15-39 with at least one child. Detailed information on the circumstances of each pregnancy were collected, including whether the woman desired the pregnancy, whether her husband wanted it, whether she experienced pressure for additional childbearing from her in-laws, and a range of individual and household characteristics. Using this information, we are able to empirically model the degree to which the opinions of others in the household shape women’s abortion behavior, focusing particularly on the degree of concordance between women and their husbands.

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Presented in Session 190: Roles of family members and health providers in abortion in Southern countries