Abortions performed late in pregnancy are associated with higher death and complication rates, are more expensive, and are emotionally more taxing for patients and staff than abortions performed early in pregnancy. To examine potential correlates of late abortion, we studied 1,066 women having abortions at two Washington, DC, abortion facilities. We found the following variables to be statistically significantly related to the gestational stage of pregnancy at the time a woman seeks an abortion: history of irregular periods, level of education, type and number of pregnancy symptoms volunteered, moral feelings of the woman about abortion, confided suspicion of pregnancy to another person, knowledge of the legality of abortion, contraceptive use, pregnancy symptoms elicited by professional personnel, and length of time the sexual partner was known. Yet, these variables are responsible for only a small percentage of the problem, since much variation in gestational age was unexplained by our analysis. This result and the finding that most of the important determinants of delay were individually oriented factors strongly imply that the problem of late abortions is one that will not be greatly influenced by public health interventions.
(JAMA 244:44-48, 1980)