Abortions no deterrent to getting pregnant for many young women, survey finds

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 February, 2008, 12:00am

A survey of young women who have had an abortion has found that a quarter of them got pregnant again within two years.

Twenty-four of them had been pregnant more than once. Six had been pregnant at least four times.

The survey was conducted recently by the Caritas Youth and Community Service.

It interviewed 51 single women under 24 who had had at least one abortion.

The youngest girl said she had had an abortion before she was 13, although most had their first abortion when aged 16 or 17.

Releasing the results yesterday, a Caritas social worker said teenage girls often felt feelings of loss after an abortion and sought intimacy with their boyfriends as quickly as possible to compensate.

'They want to get back the intimate feeling so they do not reject their boyfriends' demands,' Ng Wai-man said.

'There should be a course to teach them how to protect their bodies and how to set bottom lines in a relationship.'

Ms Ng said post-abortion therapy was needed as women usually had negative feelings about themselves afterwards.

According to the survey, the women terminated their pregnancies mainly because of financial difficulties, because they believed babies would negatively affect their lives and because their parents wanted them to.

About half of the abortions were illegal or done on the mainland.

'Girls might be advised not to have an abortion,' Ms Ng said. 'But that doesn't help because the girls feel hollow and terrible. What we should do is to offer both physical and psychological help to them.'

She said it was a misconception that young women made the decision to have an abortion easily. In fact, they suffered a lot of torment.

'Some girls even write to the dead baby and will buy presents for it on what would have been its birthday,' Ms Ng said.

One teenager, Wing, said she was happy, worried and scared when she discovered she was pregnant at 16.

'I was happy that I could have my own baby,' she said. 'But I was worried about what my family would say. I was scared about what other people would think of me.'

Wing had an abortion after two months of struggling with the idea because her family asked her to.

She ended up clinically depressed because she could not face the reality of what had happened. 'I think I lost the most important thing in my life,' Wing said. 'With my baby gone, what was the meaning of my life?'

The trauma of teen pregnancies was highlighted in December when a 16-year-old threw her newborn boy, his umbilical cord still attached, from her 24th-floor flat in Yuen Long.