Few studies investigate the influence of husbands’ or others’ fertility preferences on women’s abortion behavior, in spite of longstanding recognition that women are seldom the sole decision-makers governing reproductive behavior. This study uses survey data detailing women’s reproductive histories in Madhya Pradesh, India to analyze the role of women’s fertility preferences, their perceptions of their husbands’ and in-laws’ preferences, and empowerment in two aspects of abortion behavior: the decision to attempt an abortion (n = 8852 pregnancies) and to seek a surgical abortion with a medical provider (n = 752 abortion attempts). The latter is estimated using a Heckman’s selection model. Women are most likely to attempt an abortion and to do so via surgical abortion when they and their husbands agree that they do not want another child. Husbands’ fertility preferences exercise a strong, independent effect on both outcomes, while the effect of in-laws’ preferences is weaker. However, the strongest influence on abortion behavior is women’s own fertility preferences: the odds of attempting abortion decrease by a factor of 0.06 (p value <0.001) among women who wanted a pregnancy compared to those who did not. The magnitude of this effect does not diminish when controlling for others’ fertility preferences. Restrictions on women’s mobility increase the odds of attempting an abortion, but significantly reduce the odds of a surgical abortion.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: May 24, 2015
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