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Who presents more than once? Repeat abortion among women in Britain
  1. Nicole Stone1,
  2. Roger Ingham2
  1. 1Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Sexual Health Research, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  2. 2Professor of Health and Community Psychology, Centre for Sexual Health Research, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nicole Stone, Centre for Sexual Health Research, School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK; n.c.stone{at}


Background and methodology Around one in three sexually active women in Britain will have an abortion during their lifetime and a third of those women will experience more than one. Using data collected during the second National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles the characteristics of women who have presented for a second or subsequent abortion are compared to those women who have obtained only one.

Results Results indicate that increased age and parity are key characteristics distinguishing between women who have experienced only one abortion and those women who have had more. Findings also reveal that those who have sought abortion on more than one occasion are more likely (than those who have had one abortion) to be Black, have left school at an earlier age, be living in rented accommodation, report an earlier age at first sexual experience, be less likely to have used a reliable method of contraception at sexual debut and report a greater number of sexual partners.

Discussion and conclusions It is well recognised that attendance at abortion services presents an important opportunity for the provision of individually tailored information regarding contraception to assist women avoid the need for subsequent procedures. However, differential use of abortion services may also indicate variations in knowledge levels, attitudes to risk, attitudes towards abortion, partner communication, gender power and differential access to services. Further research is required to clarify these potential relationships so that suitable health promotion activities can be developed.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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