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Gender differences in knowledge and attitudes concerning induced abortion in Sri Lanka: a community based study in the Colombo City

Authors:

M. Suchira Suranga ,

The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka, Colombo 07, LK
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Kalinga Tudor Silva,

University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, LK
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Lakshman Senanayake

The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka, Colombo 07, LK
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Abstract

Abortion is legally permitted in Sri Lanka, only if it is performed to save the mother’s life. However, it is estimated that 125,000 to 175,000 induced abortions take place annually (De Silva, 1997). Knowledge and attitudes towards induced abortion in society can influence individual decision-making on the outcome of unwanted pregnancies and the health sector policy response. This study aims to understand the gender differences in knowledge and attitudes of adults towards induced abortion in Sri Lanka. Six Grama Niladhari Divisions (GNDs) and 50 households in the Colombo City were systematically selected using multi stage cluster sampling. An interview schedule was administrated among 743 residents between 19 to 49 years of age after receiving their written informed consent. Around 31 percent of females and 57 percent of males do not know that there are specific days in the menstrual cycle in which the chance of becoming pregnant is relatively high. Female respondents’ awareness (48 percent) of emergency contraception was significantly lower than that of males (60 percent). Only 11 percent of the respondents knew the situations in which abortion is legal in Sri Lanka. Around, 93 percent of females and 70 percent of males (X2=56.27, P<0.001) believed that induced abortion is against cultural and moral values. A majority of the respondents agreed to legalise abortion under rape (65 percent), incest (55 percent) and lethal fetal abnormality conditions (53 percent). A very small percentage of respondents agreed to legalise induced abortions in the situation of economic problems (7 percent), contraceptive failure (6 percent), at the request of the couple (5 percent) and at the request of the woman (4 percent). In conclusion, female respondents demonstrate a moderate to low level of knowledge and conservative attitudes towards induced abortion, which highlights the need for more focused interventions to address the issue.
How to Cite: Suranga, M.S., Silva, K.T. & Senanayake, L., (2017). Gender differences in knowledge and attitudes concerning induced abortion in Sri Lanka: a community based study in the Colombo City. Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences. 40(2), pp.93–102. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljss.v40i2.7540
Published on 24 Nov 2017.
Peer Reviewed

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