Study: Abortions Cause Future Relationship Problems, More Domestic Violence

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 30, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Study: Abortions Cause Future Relationship Problems, More Domestic Violence

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 30
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Some women decide to have abortions because they think having a baby will contribute to problems in their relationship with their husband or boyfriend. However, a new national study finds abortion causes more future relationship problems than carrying the pregnancy to term and parenting.

Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University headed up the study with Vincent Rue of the Florida-based Institute for Pregnancy Loss and post-abortion researcher Catherine Coyle.

"For both men and women the experience of an abortion in a previous relationship was related to negative outcomes in the current relationship: perceptions of improved quality of life if this relationship also ended and intimate partner violence," they write.

Published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed medical journal Public Health, the study finds an abortion within a current relationship causes more arguing when discussing future children and more domestic violence — respective increased risks of 116% and 196%.

After an abortion, partners are 75% more likely to argue about money than when having the baby, argue about the man’s relatives 80% more, and there is a 99% increased risk of arguing about the woman’s relatives compared to couples who give birth.

"Men whose current partners had an abortion were more likely to report jealousy (96% greater risk) and conflict about drugs (385% greater risk). These results suggest that abortion may play a vital role in understanding the etiology of some relationship problems," the authors explain.

The study also finds abortion increases women’s risk of various forms of sexual dysfunction anywhere from 122% to 182%.

The study also found an increased level of domestic violence following an abortion compared with giving birth.

"Male and female respondents who experienced an abortion within the current partnership reported engaging in significantly higher rates of intimate partner violence compared with those who had never experienced an abortion," the study found.

Coleman talked with about why abortion causes more relationship problems for men and women compared with giving birth.

"Although the precise mechanisms explaining associations between abortion history and relationship difficulties were not examined in this study, there are a number of logical reasons for the associations detected," she said.

"Relationship conflicts arising from an abortion experience may emerge during the decision-making process, adding to earlier conflicts, or new relationship problems may emerge after the procedure," Dr. Coleman explained.

She said that psychological distress taking the form of anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties, or substance abuse and guilt for terminating the pregnancy or not wanting/feeling ready to assume the responsibilities of parenting cause relationship problems after the abortion.

Coleman said belief that the relationship is not strong enough to endure raising children, lack of confidence in the other’s ability to parent, and moral or religious objections to abortion also cause future relationship problems following an abortion.

The study’s results are strengthened by the use of a large, diverse sample, professional data collection, inclusion of men, and controls for a wide range of demographic and personal history variables predictive of the choice to abort.

Citation: P.K. Coleman et al., Induced abortion and intimate relationship quality in the Chicago Health and Social Life Survey, Public Health (2009), doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2009.01.005

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