New Zealand Study Finds Women Having Abortions Victims of Abuse

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 20, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Zealand Study Finds Women Having Abortions Victims of Abuse Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 20, 2005

Waikato, New Zealand ( — An alarming new study in New Zealand finds that half of women who have abortions were victims of sexual or domestic abuse.

The study covered women who had abortions at an abortion business in Waikato in 2001. Of the women surveyed, 13 percent had been physically abused and 8.5 percent had been victims of sexual abuse. The rest of the women had been abused further in the past.

Dr. Anna Whitehead of the Waikato District Health Board and Dr. Janet Fanslow of Auckland University found in their study that women who have abortions were more likely to have been victims of abuse both in the previous year and in their lifetime.

The New Zealand Herald reported that their larger study of 2,855 women in general found that 39 percent of women in Waikato and 33 percent of women in Auckland were victims of abuse.

Abuse was defined as having been a victim of any pushing or shoving, being threatened with a weapon or actual physical assault.

In the abortion clinic study, women were asked: "Have you been hit, slapped or otherwise physically hurt by someone?" and "Have you been pressured or forced to have sex?"

Just one of the 62 women who took part in the survey said their pregnancy was the result of rape.

The authors reported their findings in an article in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. They said women seeking abortions in New Zealand should be asked by abortion facility staff about a history of abuse.

"Health professionals must be well trained in issues including cultural competency, increasing safety and respecting autonomy of abused women, and issues related to abused children," they wrote.

"Health professionals should also have established working relationships and referral pathways with local family violence agencies," they said, according to the Herald report.