a1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Birmingham
Of 50 women who were having their third or subsequent legal abortion, 23 were pregnant because their contraceptive method had failed, 24 because of erratic contraceptive use, and three had changed their mind about an initially welcome pregnancy. There was a significant relationship between erratic use and a history of medical consultation for psychiatric reasons, and a suggestion that unsettled relationships and low educational status are also related to erratic use.
Inappropriate contraceptive advice was an important factor in several cases. Since the perfect contraceptive does not exist, and since some people are more unlucky than others, repeated abortion cannot be eliminated, but it may be reduced by giving especially careful contraceptive advice to those who are clearly at risk.
There is no evidence that abortion is being deliberately used as a method of birth control.
(Received July 29 1976)