Misperceptions About the Risks of Abortion in Women Presenting for Abortion
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OBJECTIVE: Misinformation about the risks and sequelae of abortion is widespread. The purpose of this study was to examine whether women having an abortion who believe that there should be restrictions to abortion (i.e., that some other women should not be allowed to have an abortion) also believe this misinformation about the health risks associated with abortion. METHODS: We carried out a cross-sectional survey of women presenting consecutively for an abortion at an urban abortion clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia, between February and September 2012. RESULTS: Of 1008 women presenting for abortion, 978 completed questionnaires (97% response rate), and 333 of these (34%) favoured abortion restrictions. More women who favoured restrictions believed that the health risk of an abortion was the same as or greater than the health risk of childbirth (84.2% vs. 65.6%, P < 0.001), that abortion caused mental health problems (39.1% vs. 28.3%, P < 0.001), and that abortion caused infertility (41.7% vs. 21.9%, P < 0.001). Using multivariate logistic regression analyses, believing that abortion should not be restricted was found to be a significantly correlated with correct answers about health risks, mental health problems, and infertility. CONCLUSION: Misinformed beliefs about the risks of abortion are common among women having an abortion. Women presenting for abortion who favoured restrictions to abortion have more misperceptions about abortion risks than women who favour no restrictions.
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