Exploring the prevalence of abortion and its characteristics in Perú

Elisa Juarez Chavez, Roberto Maximiliano Carrasco Navarro, Rossina Guerrero, Susana I. Chavez Alvarado, Jose H. Villalobos Ruis

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1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Our paper presents the analysis of a nationwide survey that explored induced abortion among
women using a ballot-box technique. Our objective was to determine the prevalence of abortion and the
main characteristics of the procedure.
Study design: We conducted surveys in households with 2400 women aged 18–49 from urban areas nationwide, between October 15 and 29, 2018. Data collection was overseen by the Instituto de Opinión
Pública de la Universidad Católica del Perú. We performed a probabilistic, multistage, and socioeconomic
level-stratified sampling. Our study used the “ballot-box technique” to ensure anonymity and reduce the
risk of social desirability.
Results: We visited 15,433 houses nationwide. Among those households where surveys could not be conducted, it was due to abandoned or inaccessible property, unwilling to participate, absent members, out of
quota, or inconclusive survey. On average, 19.0% of Peruvian women at all socioeconomic levels reported
having had at least one abortion in their lifetime. Induced abortion is reported at all socioeconomic levels
and reported age of the abortion is concentrated between 19 and 29 years old. In 57.7% of cases, women
sought healthcare personnel for their last induced abortion. Among them, procedure abortion (45.3%)
stands out over medical abortions (34.0%). Thirty-three percent of women who reported having had at least
one induced abortion in their lifetime were admitted to a hospital after their last abortion.
Conclusions: The illegality of abortion has not prevented its occurrence in Peru. Our results suggest that, in Peru,
legal restrictions on induced abortion create an unfavorable context for women’s health, exposing them to services whose safety is not guaranteed. Efforts should be made to increase awareness and education about contraception and family planning methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce the need for abortion.
Implications: These findings should be considered in public policy discussions regarding abortion, since
they might have a great impact for better decision making. They demonstrate that legal restrictions have
not prevented the occurrence of abortion but has only created unsafe conditions around it.
Translated title of the contributionExploración de la prevalencia del aborto y sus características en el Perú
Original languageAmerican English
Early online date2023
StateIndexed - 2023

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