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Patterns and Predictors of Abortion Care-Seeking Practices in India: Evidence From a Nationally Representative Cross-Sectional Survey (2019-2021)
Authors: Mansi Malik, Siaa Girotra, Mrunali Zode & Saurav Basu
Source: Cureus, 15
Topic(s): Abortion
Health care utilization
Reproductive health
Women's health
Country: Asia
Published: JUL 2023
Abstract: Background: India continues to have unsafe abortions despite progressive legislation since the past five decades facilitating ease of access to abortion services. This study describes abortion care-seeking patterns (social/therapeutic/humanitarian/sex-selective/safe/unsafe), preferences (public/private/at home), and their determinants among Indian women. Methods: Data were taken from the Indian National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-5) (2019-2021) including women aged 15-49 years, who had terminated their last pregnancy by induced abortion within five years prior to the survey (N = 5,856). A bivariate analysis, followed by a multinomial logistic regression model, was performed to assess the predictors affecting the choice of healthcare facility type for an abortion. Predictors of unsafe and self-managed abortions were examined using binary logistic regression. Results: About 665,671 women in the reproductive age group responded to the survey, of which 3.42% (n=22,767) reported their most recent pregnancy within the last five years terminated in either a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion, of which 5,856 (25.72%) underwent an induced abortion. Women undergoing surgical abortion were more likely to avail of either a public (adjusted relative risk ratio (aRRR)=38.06 (23.62, 61.35)) or a private facility (aRRR=44.53 (28.11,70.53)) compared to at-home abortions. Women reporting a social and humanitarian reason for abortion were less likely to undergo an abortion at a public (aRRR=0.25 (0.17,0.35)) or private facility (aRRR=0.32 (0.23,0.44)) than at home. Furthermore, a total of 147 (2.43%) abortions were classified as unsafe. Women reporting sex-selective reasons for abortion were observed to have a higher likelihood of engaging in an unsafe abortion (adjusted odds ratio (aOR)= 1.61 (0.70, 3.70)) compared to those citing a therapeutic reason. Conclusions: Self-managed abortions at home were more prevalent in women of lower socioeconomic status, adolescent girls, and those reporting sex-selective reasons for abortion. Furthermore, the reproductive-health program in India should enhance capacity-building initiatives for primary-care healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, to effectively prescribe and supervise abortion through medication methods.