Consequences of induced abortion on general, reproductive and mental health of women: experiences from rural Haryana, India

Sutapa Agrawal, Independent Consultant

This paper deals with consequences of induced abortion on general, reproductive and mental health of the women by exploring data of 329 married women from a community-based survey conducted in five villages of Haryana during 2003. Women’s general, reproductive, and mental health has been examined according to number of pregnancies, gestational stage and number of abortions. Mental health status has been seen according to women’s childhood experience, autonomy, married life, and sex preference in addition to experience of abortion. Higher the number of pregnancies, poorer the general health status was perceived by women. Pain in lower abdomen, body weakness and tiredness has been found to be significantly higher among women who had experienced abortion. With higher gestational stage and more number of abortions, general and reproductive health problems were found to be significantly higher among women. A gestational stage of abortion of more than three months further deteriorates women’s reproductive health to a great extent. Logistic regression also substantiates that experience of induced abortion significantly aggravates all types of health problems among women even after controlling for possible socio-economic and demographic factors. As per the mental health status of women is concerned, it has been found that women who have no surviving male children have a significantly poorer mental health status than women with at least one or more surviving male children. Moreover, more number of female children further deteriorates the mental health condition of women. Women, who perceived their childhood status as worse, also have a considerably poorer mental health status. Women reporting a sad married life and having a medium or high marital instability were also found to have a poorer mental health condition. Analysis also reveals that women with more number of abortions and abortion at higher gestational stage have a relatively poorer mental health condition.

Presented in Session 24: Reproductive health and abortion