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First Time Abortions Due to Not Using Birth Control

For Women Seeking Abortion, More than Half of Were Not Using Birth Control


Updated June 22, 2011

First Time Abortions Due to Not Using Birth Control

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Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office Online
Here is some information stemming from the 56th annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists earlier this week: Half of all women seeking a first abortion had not been using any type of contraception when they conceived (despite agreement with their sexual partners about not wanting to become pregnant). These women were seeking an abortion due to not using birth control or because of inconsistent birth control use. According to Dr. Nilda L. Moreno-Ruiz of Boston University, cost and religion did not seem to be factors influencing the lack of birth control use.

Interestingly, the results from surveys of 104 women attending a Boston Medical Center clinic requesting a first abortion reveal that 87 of the 104 women had actually used one or more "highly effective" contraception method during the year previous to conception – including: the pill, NuvaRing, Ortho Evra Patch, IUD, Implanon, and Depo Provera. Yet 56 women were not using one of these methods at the time of intercourse.

Ages in the study ranged between 18-39 years, 88 women did not want to get pregnant, 80 women completed high school or had additional education, and 62 have had previous births.

Other results from this study (which the Boston University team intends to further analyze this data in an attempt to distinguish specific use patterns and barriers to effective contraception):

  • Nearly all of the women had previously used some form of birth control

  • Approximately ¼ of the women indicated that they were always using a birth control method at the time of conception. In fact, 11 women became pregnant while using a highly effective method. However, 6 women stated that it was used incorrectly and five indicated true contraception failure

  • Only 48 of the women had received counseling or information about pregnancy prevention in the year prior to conceiving

  • Two-thirds of the women believed that birth control was their responsibility, yet more than half did not have a method available during the time they conceived
With respect to the reasons the women provided for not using contraception, responses varied according to the birth control method. Except for with condoms, side effects were reported with all methods (yet were not identified as a barrier to contraception). For the pill and Depo shot, adhering to the necessary schedule was reported. Finally, it appears as if changing partners and/or changing methods were indicated as frequent barriers to consistent contraception use.


Kerr, M. (2008, May 12). Half of Women Not Using Contraceptives at Time of Elective Abortion. Accessed through private subscription 5/14/08.

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