Research themes and projects at the Centre for Womens Health, Gender and Society
Understanding women’s experiences of unplanned pregnancy and abortion
Major research theme
Other major themes
- Prof Doreen Rosenthal, Honorary Professorial Fellow, School of Population Health
- Dr Heather Rowe, CWHGS, School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne
- Dr Shelley Mallett, Melbourne Citymission
- Ms Annarella Hardiman, Pregnancy Advisory Service Manager, The Royal Women’s Hospital
- Dr Maggie Kirkman, CWHGS, School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne
- The Royal Women’s Hospital
- Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (Dee Basinski)
- ARC Linkage Grant, 2006-2008, $236,000
The economic, health and social costs to the Australian community of unplanned pregnancies and abortions is a major public health concern. Worldwide, there are few population studies examining which women seek abortions and why they do so. Debates in both policy and public arenas are hampered by a lack of comprehensive, reliable evidence about the incidence of abortion and the factors underlying decisions to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
The main objectives of the study are to:
- Identify factors associated with unplanned pregnancy and decisions about termination, including age, socio-cultural background, financial circumstances, parity and mental health, among others;
- Investigate decision-making pathways following access to a pregnancy advisory service;
- Increase understanding of health problems associated with unplanned pregnancies;-contribute to the understanding of the circumstances of particular sub-populations of women presenting for termination. For example, young women, women who have experienced violence, women of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and women with advanced gestation;
- Analyse the factors which contribute to barriers and reduced access to services, such as homelessness, mental health and disability;
- Improve understanding of women’s service needs in order to provide best practice; and
- Identify factors such as geographic location and demographic characteristics which affect women’s access to pregnancy prevention and abortion services.
The research project has three components:
- Development and analysis of a database of demographic and psychosocial factors related to terminations conducted at the RWH over a 12 month period.
- Nested qualitative studies of selected groups of women who present at the RWH seeking terminations; and
- Interviews with counsellors in the RWH Pregnancy Advisory Service.
Rowe H, Kirkman M, Hardiman A, Mallett S, Rosenthal D. Considering abortion: 12 month audit of records of women contacting a Pregnancy Advisory Service. MJA. 2008. In press.