About half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and approximately 50 percent of unplanned pregnancies are aborted
. In the abortion debate, we hear a lot about children having babies, women becoming pregnant as a result of rape, and pregnant women who are facing a serious health issue. But what are the most common reasons for abortion? And what about older, childless women who want to have children someday, that decide to have an abortion?
A study published in the most recent edition of the peer-reviewed medical journal, Canadian Family Physician
, evaluated the charts of 1844 women who presented at a large urban abortion clinic. They did chart reviews and asked the women to complete a questionnaire. They conducted interviews with those women who were over age 35.
Older women without children were most likely to say they were 'just not ready' (57%), had 'relationship concerns' (33%), or 'not enough money' (23%). In comparison, younger women without children were more likely to say 'just not ready' (79%), 'not finished school or career preparation' (45%), and 'not enough money' (30%).
Another common theme among older women without children was concern that their partner might not be a good parent.
Only 24% of older women without children said their age or physical health was a factor in their decision, compared with 36% of older women who already had children.
The theme the study investigators expected to see but found missing from each interview with childless, older women was worry about lack of fertility or complications with the pregnancy, birth, or fetal health owing to maternal age.
According to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children
, once a woman reaches age 35, there is a decline in fertility, and birth defects such as Down syndrome, other genetic abnormalities, and cardiac defects become more of a concern. Rates for pregnancy-related complications such as ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, as well as cesarean section, also rise after age 35.
Regardless of these well-known facts, the percentage of women in Canada having their first baby after age 35 has tripled between 1987 and 2005. This trend has resulted in increased rates of pregnancy-induced hypertension, premature birth, low birth weight, and infertility.
"The most important finding of this study was that 82% of women, aged 33 or older who did not already have children, who were having abortions, were either still planning to have children or were not sure yet. Few of these women were concerned about their age and health with respect to having children later in life. The most important factor in their decision-making was the quality of their relationships," concluded the investigators.
What do you think of these findings?