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Induced abortion in Canada 1974–2005: trends over the first generation with legal access

  • Wendy V. Norman
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 604 761 7767.
    Affiliations
    Department of Family Practice, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Contraception and Abortion Research Team, Women's Health Research Institute, BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre, Vancouver, BC V6H 1G3, Canada
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      Abstract

      Background

      Canadian women currently entering menopause are the first generation with access to legal induced abortion throughout their reproductive years.

      Study Design

      Statistics Canada data from 1974 to 2005 on age-specific abortion and first-abortion rates were analyzed to determine the proportion of the cohort hypothetically and actually undergoing at least one induced abortion, as well as the age-specific trends.

      Results

      Among Canadian women who turned 45 years old in 2005, 31% had at least one abortion, with a median age at first abortion of 24 years. Since 1997, age-specific induced abortion rates overall and among teenagers have declined significantly, while rates among older women show less decline as age increases. Annually from 1974 to 2005, women aged 20–29 years account for 52% (SD 1.8%) of all abortions in Canada.

      Conclusions

      Induced abortion is a common procedure experienced by nearly a third of Canadian women during their reproductive years. Consistently, half of all women accessing abortion are in their twenties. These findings suggest that Canadian women, particularly those in their twenties, experience a significant unmet need for effective contraception.

      Keywords

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