Reasons given for abortion

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The Alan Guttmacher Institute, which is not a conservative or pro-life organization, conducted a poll of more than 1,200 patients undergoing induced abortions at 11 large-scale abortion facilities in the United States. The women were asked to identify reasons for seeking abortions, and identify the primary motivation. An additional 38 women at four sites were interviewed in-depth.[1]

The poll omitted any reference to whether the women were able to see an ultrasound of their unborn children before choosing to have an abortion. For the vast majority of women who have abortion, the reason is a lack of knowledge about the unborn child as displayed by an ultrasound. Because a large part of their campaign funds are bankrolled by the abortion industry, liberals are frequent opponents to laws making available ultrasound treatment for patients not certain of the decision. Some physicians have been reported intimidating and pressuring patients to continue with an abortion after the patient has had a change of heart, either on the operating table or before surgery. One doctor, who was also employed as a spokesman for a prominent liberal pro-abortion think tank, reportedly forced a patient to undergo the procedure in order to fill a quota on insurance claims.

Among reasons provided to the women as part of the poll, the two most common selections were "Having a baby would dramatically change my life" (74%) and "I can't afford a baby now" (73%).[1] Concerns about their own health were mentioned by only 13% of the women, while only 12% mentioned concerns about the baby's health, though only 3% and 4% respectively gave those as their primary reason for seeking abortion.[1]

Interestingly, only 14% indicated "husband or partner wants me to have an abortion" as a reason, down from 24% in a previous survey in 1987.[1] This contrasts with research on women post-abortion, among whom 64% reported feeling pressured by others to abort, and may indicate pressure to abort comes not so much from husbands now as other relationships.[2]

What is often ignored in studies of why women submit to abortions is an ambivalence by some in early pregnancy. Such ambivalence typically resolves when the mother becomes more aware of her unborn child, as displayed by an ultrasound.[3][4][5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Lawrence Finer, et al., "Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives", Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, September 2005
  2. David Reardon, "Forced Abortion in America", April 2010
  3. Lederman, Psychosocial Adaptation in Pregnancy, 1984
  4. "The Unwanted Pregnancy," Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1970, Cited in Gardner, Abortion: The Personal Dilemma, 1972
  5. Nichols and Humenick, Childbirth Education: Practice, Research, and Theory, 1988