Women seeking UK abortions more likely to have suffered abuse

Study finds women who have experienced domestic violence have higher rates of poor sexual health

Women seeking abortions in Britain are six times more likely than pregnant mothers in ante-natal care to have been victims of physical abuse from partners, according to a new study.

The study, published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, was carried out into 500 women presenting in Hull and Yorkshire East Riding.

Physical abuse
Nearly 6 per cent of the women who sought abortions had suffered physical abuse at the hands of husbands or partners, while a tenth had suffered emotional abuse.

The women seeking abortions in the region “were more likely to be younger, in unstable relationships, and less likely to have higher education” than those who attended ante-natal clinics, the research shows.


Last night, Mara Clarke, who runs the London-based Abortion Support Network, said the figures are supported by the experiences of Irish women who travel to Britain for abortions.

“In 2013 at least 26 of the women we heard from were in or escaping abusive relationships. We expect the number is higher than this as we don’t ask women if they are in these relationships.

"The 26 mentioned abuse during financial assessment," Ms Clarke told The Irish Times.

The journal’s research said: “Women who have experienced domestic violence are consistently found to have poor sexual and reproductive health when compared with non-abused women. In our study, we found financial constraints were the most common reason for requesting a [termination].

Disruptive events
"Many poor women requesting a termination have had many disruptive events in their lives, such as unemployment issues and housing instability, leading to the decision to terminate their pregnancies," said the paper, which is being published this morning.

Mark Hennessy

Mark Hennessy

Mark Hennessy is Ireland and Britain Editor with The Irish Times