The Path Less Taken: Use of Contraception and Abortion over the Life Course in Madhya Pradesh, India

Kerry MacQuarrie, University of Washington
Jeffrey Edmeades, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Christine MacAulay, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

Numerous studies have found that significant proportions of women who wish to delay or stop childbearing nonetheless do not use contraception, even when available. This study explores this apparent contradiction, using data on the desire to regulate fertility, contraceptive use and abortion over the reproductive life courses of 2,444 women in Madhya Pradesh, India. We illustrate the ways in which unmet need is generated at different points in the life course by exploring the multi-step pathways that women follow from childbearing desires to subsequent fertility behavior. We find that, at any point of the life course, less than 8% of women who want to regulate fertility actually use contraception effectively. Barriers to contraception persist across the life course, though the composition of those barriers changes. Abortion is more frequently used to resolve unintended pregnancies later in the life course than earlier, and most frequently by women who used contraception.

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Presented in Poster Session 1