Main Organiser

Julius Centre University of Malaya

Co-organiser

Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malay

Supported by

University of Malaya

PERCEPTIONS OF ABORTION AMONG WOMEN IN MALAYSIA: A QUALITATIVE INQUIRY

Author

Tong WT, Low WY, Wong YL, Choong SP, Jegasothy R

Institution

University of Malaya

Abstract

Objectives: This qualitative study explores abortion perceptions among women who have experienced induced abortion in Malaysia.

Methods: Thirty-one women of age ranged from 21-43 years (30.16 ±6.41), who had induced surgical/medical abortions were recruited from an urban family planning clinic. Ten women reported only to have one time abortion while the remaining had multiple abortions ranging from 2-8 times. In- depth interviews were conducted and audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and analyzed thematically.

Results: Women perceived abortion as a sin, a life being taken away and this is particularly due to religious beliefs. Women also perceived abortion as embarrassing, harmful to health, a common experience among women and only couples who are not ready to have children will have abortions. Some viewed abortion as a form of family planning. The women opined that acceptable reasons for abortion were mainly financial incapability to raise a child and mother’s health, where else unacceptable circumstances were for those who are not married. Among perceived barriers to abortion include financial constraints, accessibility and availability, lack of abortion information, partners’ consent, fear of abortion procedure and personal religious beliefs. Medical abortion was thought to be cheaper, convenient, less invasive and harmful, natural and less painful compared to surgical abortion.

Conclusion: Although women perceived abortion negatively, nevertheless the study highlighted the urgent need for safe abortion services.