In many countries, particularly in the less developed world, abortion remains illegal, yet many women still seek to terminate unwanted pregnancies by clandestine methods. Such abortions are often unsafe and contribute significantly to maternal mortality and morbidity in such settings. This paper reports on findings from a study which investigated the social factors associated with abortion-related morbidity in Manila. The study involved a comparison of the characteristics and experiences of (200) women being treated in hospitals for complications of abortion with (250) hospital, and (250) community controls, who had no history of abortion or miscarriage. Data collection combined a quantitative schedule-structured survey and qualitative focus group discussions. The study investigated the women's fertility and contraceptive history family and marital situation and attitudes and feelings concerning contraception and abortion.
Irrespective of the issue of legalization of abortion, the study's findings provide strong and unequivocal support for an expanded and improved access to family planning services in the Philippines. In particular, there is a need for public education on family planning and reproductive health that addresses and reaches both men and women. Furthermore, the study indicates that women who are in the most unequal and husband-dominated relationships are more prone to suffer from abortion-related morbidity. These findings reinforce the demand for a greater understanding of the precise behavioral mechanisms by which gender relations and maternal health are linked. in order to develop and implement appropriate programmes and policies.