The incidence of induced abortion in Tehran, Iran: current levels and correlates

Amir Erfani, Nipissing University, Canada

CONTEXT Abortion is illegal in Iran and many women who face an unplanned pregnancy undergo clandestine, unsafe abortions. In the face of scarcity of information on abortion for Iran, updated information on the incidence of abortion is needed to assess the incidence of abortions in Iran. METHODS This study utilizes data from the 2009 Tehran Survey of Fertility, conducted in a sample of 2934 married women aged 15-49 in Tehran, to estimate abortion rates and ratios at population and subgroup levels and to explore the reasons of abortions. RESULTS The lifetime abortion rate in Tehran is estimated to be one per six married women of reproductive age, and about 9 percent of pregnancies end in abortions. Annually, 11,543 abortions are estimated to be obtained by married women of the reproductive age in Tehran. The mean age of women at abortion is 33.5 years. The probability of abortion is higher among women who are less religious, wealthier, employed, and among those who are childless or have two children. Findings suggest the existence of a male imposition in seeking an abortion. Reasons for abortions indicate that 84% of abortions in the city of Tehran are most likely illegal, and birth spacing and limiting are the main reasons for seeking abortions. About two-third of aborted pregnancies resulted from failures in withdrawal, the pill, and condoms. CONCLUSIONS The information presented in the study can help policy makers in reproductive health to identify subgroups in particular need of services and counseling to prevent unintended pregnancy.

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Presented in Session 84: Sexual and reproductive health: abortion