One third of unplanned Aussie pregnancies end in abortion: Study

Many Aussie women admitted to unplanned pregnancies that resulted in abortion. Source: Getty

Australian researchers have revealed almost one third of unplanned pregnancies over the past 10 years ended in abortion.

Results of a national survey, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, revealed one in four women who responded to the telephone survey fell pregnant without planning to do so and 30.4 per cent of those pregnancies ended in abortion.

The national random computer-assisted telephone survey was conducted by a team of researchers from La Trobe University over the course of six months. Researched analysed data from 2,013 participants, 1,390 of whom had been pregnant during the past 10 years.

Of these women a total of 362 said their pregnancies were unintended, with 68 per cent of those reported as wanted and 26 per cent described as unwanted. Of those pregnancies that were unwanted, 80 per cent were terminated.

“Half the women with an unintended pregnancy gave birth; 110 had abortions, 55 miscarriages, and three were still pregnant at the time of the survey,” Professor Angela Taft, a principal research fellow at the university, explained. “Of the women who had been pregnant but did not report an unintended pregnancy, 14.7 per cent reported having had an abortion. Most women who had unintended pregnancies (205 of 362, 56.6 per cent) reported not having used contraception at the time.”

Read more:Researchers argue parents should have rights to ‘after-birth abortion’

While the La Trobe University study gives a clear indication of Australia’s abortion rate, past data has been somewhat tricky to verify. An article published by the ABC in 2017, claimed Australia’s abortion rates are much lower than estimated and that data analysed at the time proved termination rates are declining across the country. 

Figures published in 2005 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare claim there are 80,000 abortions in Australia each year, however, a lack of standardised data tracking across the country has made it difficult to determine whether those figures are still relevant.

Speaking of the need for more research on the subject, Taft said education could help women avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

“Research is required to explore the reasons for not [using contraception], and to determine where education would be most helpful. Clinicians and services should focus their attention on women at highest risk of unintended pregnancy, including those who have had three or more pregnancies. The immediate post-partum and post-abortion periods are opportune times for intervening to avert unintended pregnancies.”

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