Predictors of delay in each step leading to an abortion

Foster DG

Jackson RA

Cosby K

Weitz TA

Darney PD

Drey EA

Apr 2008


Approximately 1 out of 10 abortions in the United States occurs in the second trimester of pregnancy. This study uses survival analysis to identify the factors which delay each step of the process of obtaining an abortion.


This is a secondary data analysis of a cross-sectional study investigating a sample of 398 women who presented for elective abortion at an urban hospital. Respondents completed a survey using an audio-assisted self-interviewing program and provided a timeline for their process of obtaining an abortion.


In our analysis, we divided the abortion process into three steps ending in three distinct events (first pregnancy test, calling a clinic, getting an abortion). Factors associated with delay during the first step include obesity [hazard ratio (HR) 0.8, 95% CI 0.6-1.0], abuse of drugs or alcohol (HR 0.7, 95% CI 0.6-1.0), prior second-trimester abortion (HR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4-0.8) and being unsure of last menstrual period (HR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4-0.7) and emotional factors such as being in denial (HR 0.8, 95% CI 0.6-1.0) and fear of abortion (HR 0.7, 95% CI 0.5-1.0).


This study identified key factors associated with delay in obtaining abortion care. Interventions which seek to address these factors, especially those factors associated with later pregnancy suspicion and testing, may reduce abortion delay and facilitate women obtaining their abortions when medical risk and overall cost are lower.