Doctors should be alert to the fact that a “significant number” of women seeking abortions are or have been in abusive relationships, a new study warns.
The report, in the Obstetrician and Gynaecologist (TOG) journal found that 30 per cent of women having a second abortion said they were in an abusive relationship.
Women on their third or more abortion were even more likely to have suffered a history of physical or sexual abuse.
Jason Waugh, editor-in-chief of TOG, commented: “These findings highlight the need for health professionals to be aware of, and sensitive to, the possibility of violence in the lives of women seeking abortion. Our society should have zero tolerance for domestic violence.”
He added: “Given the high prevalence of violence in pregnancy, it is important to ask women seeking both maternity and abortion services about domestic violence. Knowing about domestic violence can help to ensure that women are provided with the support and information that they need.”
The report follows a study published in June showing that the risk of premature birth and other related complications rises with the number of abortions a woman has.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists said in March 2008 that women seeking abortions should be warned of the mental health risks before proceeding.
In 2008, several bids were made to make abortion available with fewer medical checks when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill was debated in Parliament.
None of the liberalising amendments reached a vote in Parliament.
Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris has called for doctors holding pro-life views to be forced to publicise them, so women seeking abortion advice would not see those doctors.