Academic journal article Demographic Research

Rates of Induced Abortion in Denmark According to Age, Previous Births, and Previous Abortions

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Rates of Induced Abortion in Denmark According to Age, Previous Births, and Previous Abortions

Article excerpt


Background: The effects of various socio-demographic determinants on a woman's risk of having an abortion are relatively well-documented, less attention has however been given to the effect of previous abortions and births. Objective: The objective is to study the risk of having an induced abortion among Danish women according to previous births, previous abortions and a number of other demographic characteristics. Data and methods: From the Fertility of Women and Couples Dataset, we obtained data on the number of live births and induced abortions by year (1982-2001), age (20-39), county of residence, and family situation. Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate the influence of the explanatory variables on the probability of having an abortion in a relevant year. Main findings and conclusion: A woman's risk of having an abortion increases with the number of previous births and previous abortions. Some interactions were found in the way a woman's risk of abortion varies with calendar year, age and fertility parity. The risk of an abortion for women with no children decreases, while the risk of an abortion for women with children increases during the study period. Furthermore, the risk of an abortion decreases with age, but relatively more so for women with children than for childless women.

1. Introduction

During the last couple of decades rates of induced abortion have been declining in most western countries, which today have lower rates that other parts of the world; 19 per 1000 women aged 15-44 (Sedgh et al. 2007). Although abortion rates are declining, more knowledge on why women are having abortions is needed if one wants to lower the rates further and to help guide policy-making and reproductive health campaigns. A number of abortion determinants such as age, marital status, and ethnicity have been identified, and their impact on a woman's risk of having an abortion are relatively well-documented, both internationally and for Denmark (e.g. Barrett, Peacook, and Victor 1998; Henshaw 1990; Rasch et al. 2008; Bankole, Singh, and Haas 1998). Less attention has been given to the association between a woman's choice of induced abortion and her previous births and abortions5. Especially information on the effect of the number of previous abortions is relatively sparse, probably due mainly to lack of relevant data, particularly at population level. The scope of this article is to examine the possible link between previous abortions and births on Danish women's risk of having an abortion.

1.1 The Danish setting

In 1970 and 1973, the acts regulating the access to pregnancy termination became importantly liberalised in regards to the characteristics of women entitled to abortion and the act from 1973 is, with only minor changes, still applicable in Denmark. Under this act, all women above the age of 18 have the right to an induced abortion at a public hospital, cost-free and on demand, provided the woman is domiciled in Denmark and the induced abortion can be performed before the end of the 12th week of pregnancy. Induced abortions after the 12th week require special permission (Act No. 350 of 13 June 1973 on the interruption of pregnancy; Rasmussen 1994).

The general abortion rate, calculated for 15-49 year old women, peaked in Denmark in 1975 with 23.7 abortions per 1,000 women and has been declining almost constantly ever since: In 2006, the general abortion rate was 12.2 abortions per 1,000 women, cf. Figure 1. Hence, the general abortion rate almost halved from 1975 to 2006.

1.2 Background

The main focus of this paper is to examine if and how a woman's previous abortions and births influence the risk of an induced abortion. We have only identified a few analyses, which consider both characteristics (e.g. Bettarini and D'Andrea 1996; Millar, Wadhera, and Henshaw 1997; Russo, Horn, and Schwartz 1992), whereas a large number of articles discuss either a woman's abortion parity or fertility parity when she is having an abortion. …

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