Who are the adolescents that engaged in elective abortion in Portugal?
ESC Congress Library. Pereira J. May 28, 2014; 50440; A-022
Dr. Joana Pereira
Dr. Joana Pereira
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1.Objectives: The Portuguese abortion law allowing elective abortion is recent. Consequently, the research on the characteristics of women who engaged in elective abortion is scarce, namely regarding adolescents. Usually, elective abortion was associated with unplanned pregnancies. Therefore, this study aimed to identify individual, relational, and reproductive characteristics of adolescents who engage in elective abortion in Portugal.

2.Methods: The sample consisted of 175 adolescents aged 14-19 years who engaged in elective abortion. Individual, relational, and reproductive data were collected through self-report measures, between 2011 and 2013, in 23 healthcare services.

3.Results: Adolescents were predominantly single (94.9%), of European ethnic origin (85.0%), of low socioeconomic status (75.7%), and did not report religious beliefs (71.2%). About 85.1% of them were in school at the time of the assessment; the mean grade level was the 10th grade (M= 10.32, SD= 1.69). At the time of the conception, the majority of adolescents were involved in a romantic relationship (96.5%); the average relationship length was 13 ​​months. Adolescents’ partners were 3 years younger to 29 years older than themselves (M= 20.12, SD= 3.81) and no longer in school (53.7%). The mean age at menarche was 12.1 years (SD= 1.65; range: 8-17). Adolescents engaged in sexual intercourse for the first time between the ages of 11-19 and had, on average, 2 sexual partners (SD= 1.26; range: 1-7). About 8.0% of adolescents had a previous abortion, and 99.4% did not plan the current pregnancy. About 80.5% reported the use of contraceptives at the time of the conception (condom: 52.9%; pill: 34.3%; pill and condom: 5.7%). Among them, 56.0% reported contraceptive failure (condom rupture: 31.0%; forgetting to take the pill: 15.0%; taking the pill but still pregnant: 4.0%). However, 44.0% did not identify contraceptive failure. The main reasons for non-contraceptive use were: “currently, not having active sex life/boyfriend” (22.2%), “not wanting/liking to use it” (22.2%) and “forgot to use contraception” (22.2%).


4.Conclusion: Our findings provide specific knowledge about the individual, relational, and reproductive characteristics of adolescents who engage in elective abortion in Portugal. Thus, they may contribute to identify those adolescents at greater risk to engaged on elective abortion and establish specific guidelines for family planning. Assessing how contraception is being used, identifying possible use errors, and providing alternative strategies to deal with them seems to be particular important to prevent unplanned pregnancies ending in abortion.

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