Early abortion as narrated by young Swedish women

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Scand J Caring Sci; 2009; 23; 243–250

Early abortion as narrated by young Swedish women


The aim of the study was to illuminate meanings of having had an induced abortion among young Swedish women.


Narrative interviews were conducted with ten 18–20-year-old women 2–6 weeks after a medical or surgical abortion in the sixth to twelfth week of pregnancy. Data were analysed according to a phenomenological hermeneutic method.


The study disclosed a multitude of complex meanings in the young women's lived experiences of induced abortion. Four themes were revealed: having cared for and protected the unimagined pregnancy, taking the life of my child-to-be with pain, being sensitive to the approval of others and imagining the taken away child-to-be. The results are discussed in light of Nussbaum's theory of development ethics. The young women's ability to be responsible for their choices regarding their own welfare and others' well-being in a life cycle perspective was disclosed, despite the pain inherent in the responsibility of taking the life of their own child-to-be.


The young women's narratives were replete with ethical reasoning regarding existential matters related to their responsibility of choosing between induced abortion and parenthood and how to live their lives with this experience. Health-care professionals could promote young women's capability to be responsible, as well as the development of trust in their own fertility and constructive relationships with significant others. In the development of the prevention of unintended pregnancies and the sexual education of young people in Sweden existential dimensions of undergoing an abortion should be given attention.

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