New Zealand Study Finds Violence Increases Risk of Abortion
Almost One in 10 Pregnant Women Were Abused While Pregnant
New surveys of women in New Zealand have found that nearly one in 10 pregnant women experienced violence during pregnancy, and that women who experienced domestic violence were 2.5 times more likely to abort than women who were not victims of violence.
A research team from the University of Auckland conducted two surveys of around 1,000 women each from two regions in New Zealand, the results of which were published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
According to a news release from the research team, the survey also found that among the women who had been in an abusive relationship, the violence did not diminish when they became pregnant but in many cases either stayed the same or increased. And 43 percent of women who experienced violence while pregnant reported being punched or kicked in the abdomen, usually by the father of the unborn baby.
The researchers urged abortion businesses to provide better training for staff and to ensure adequate resources to help women facing domestic violence.1
The findings add to a growing body of evidence linking domestic violence and abortion. Studies in the U.S. have found that violence is the leading cause of death among pregnant women,2 and that pregnant women are more at risk for violence.3 Anecdotal evidence found that in many cases, women were assaulted or killed for refusing to abort or because the attacker did not want the baby.4
For example, a Baltimore man was convicted earlier this year in the death of his pregnant girlfriend and her unborn child. Police said that after 25-year-old David Miller learned Elizabeth Walters was pregnant, he arranged to meet her and a friend in a mall parking lot and shot her. The friend, who was injured in the shooting, said that Miller told Walters, "You're not going to ruin my life."5
Evidence suggests that, even when violence is not a factor, many women undergoing abortion are not freely choosing it. A large-scale survey of women who had abortions found that 64 percent of American respondents were pressured to abort by others, more than half said they felt rushed or uncertain about the abortion and more than 80 percent said they did not receive adequate counseling to allow them to make a decision.6
The Elliot Institute has called for legislation that would hold abortion businesses liable for failing to screen women for coercion, as well as for risk factors that make them more likely to experience psychological problems after abortion.
1. "Partner violence has huge impact on women's reproductive health," University of Auckland News Release, Aug. 13, 2008.
2. I.L. Horton and D. Cheng, “Enhanced Surveillance for Pregnancy-Associated Mortality-Maryland, 1993-1998,” JAMA 285(11): 1455-1459 (2001); see also J. Mcfarlane et. al., "Abuse During Pregnancy and Femicide: Urgent Implications for Women's Health," Obstetrics & Gynecology, 100: 27-36 (2002).
3. Julie A. Gazmararian et al., “The Relationship Between Pregnancy Intendedness and Physical Violence in Mothers of Newborns,” Obstetrics & Gynecology, 85 :1031 (1995); Hortensia Amaro et al., “Violence During Pregnancy and Substance Use,” American Journal of Public Health, 80: 575 (1990); and J. McFarlane et al., “Abuse During Pregnancy and Femicide: Urgent Implications for Women’s Health,” Obstetrics & Gynecology, 100: 27, 27-36 (2002).
4. For more information, see the special report, Forced Abortion in America.
5. Luke Broadwater, "Man convicted of killing girlfriend, unborn baby," Baltimore Examiner, March 27, 2008.
6. VM Rue et. al., “Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women,” Medical Science Monitor 10(10): SR5-16 (2004).
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