The association between intimate partner violence and recent self-managed abortion in India

Elsevier, AJOG Global Reports, Volume 1, November 2021
Goemans S.L., Singh A., Yadav A.K., McDougal L., Raj A., Averbach S.H.
BACKGROUND: Previous studies have shown that women who experience intimate partner violence have higher rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion—but whether there are differences between the types of abortion care accessed is unknown. Understanding the predictors of self-managed abortion is important for providing risk-mitigating information and resources to those at highest risk for unintended pregnancy and intimate partner violence. With access to information and medication abortion drugs, it is possible that self-managed abortion can be performed safely, increasing reproductive autonomy for women. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the association between experiencing intimate partner violence and using self-managed abortion. STUDY DESIGN: This is a cross-sectional analysis of responses of 57,090 married women to the National Family Health Survey-4 conducted across India from 2015 to 2016. The association between the type of intimate partner violence and self-managed abortion was analyzed using multivariable multinomial logistic regression. RESULTS: Women who have ever experienced physical intimate partner violence were more likely to have any abortion (adjusted relative risk=1.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.2–2.0) and use self-managed abortion (adjusted relative risk=1.7; 95% confidence interval, 1.1–2.6) than women who have not experienced physical intimate partner violence. Women who have ever experienced sexual intimate partner violence may have been more likely to use self-managed abortion, though this association was not statistically significant (adjusted relative risk=2.7; 95% confidence interval, 0.7–10.4). CONCLUSION: Women who have experienced physical intimate partner violence disproportionately use abortion care, both facility-based and self-managed. Women who have experienced sexual intimate partner violence may also be more likely to use self-managed abortion. Although abortion is legal, self-managed abortion is commonly occurring in India. Self-managed abortion represents an additional choice and enhances reproductive autonomy in settings where abortion is legal. The implementation of risk-mitigation resources and policies regarding self-managed abortion would provide protection and enhanced autonomy to susceptible groups across India.