Open Access Open Badges Research article

Abortion trends from 1996 to 2011 in Estonia: special emphasis on repeat abortion

Made Laanpere1*, Inge Ringmets2, Kai Part13, Kärt Allvee4, Piret Veerus5 and Helle Karro13

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Tartu, L. Puusepa 8, Tartu 51014, Estonia

2 Department of Public Health, University of Tartu, Ravila 19, Tartu 50411, Estonia

3 Tartu University Hospital Women's Clinic, L. Puusepa 8, Tartu 51014, Estonia

4 Estonian Medical Birth and Abortion Registry. National Institute for Health Development, Hiiu 42, Tallinn 11619, Estonia

5 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. National Institute for Heath Development, Hiiu 42, Tallinn 11619, Estonia

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BMC Women's Health 2014, 14:81  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-14-81

Published: 9 July 2014



The study aimed to describe the overall and age-specific trends of induced abortions from 1996 to 2011 with an emphasis on socio-demographic characteristics and contraceptive use of women having had repeat abortions in Estonia.


Data were retrieved from the Estonian Medical Birth and Abortion Registry and Statistics Estonia. Total induced abortion numbers, rates, ratios and age-specific rates are presented for 1996–2011. The percentage change in the number of repeat abortions within selected socio-demographic subgroups, contraception use and distribution of induced abortions among Estonians and non-Estonians for the first, second, third, fourth and subsequent abortions were calculated for the periods 1996–2003 and 2004–2011.


Observed trends over the 16-year study period indicated a considerable decline in induced abortions with a reduction in abortion rate of 57.1%, which was mainly attributed to younger cohorts. The percentage of women undergoing repeat abortions fell steadily from 63.8% during 1996–2003 to 58.0% during 2004–2011. The percentage of women undergoing repeat abortions significantly decreased over the 16 years within all selected socio-demographic subgroups except among women with low educational attainment and students. Within each time period, a greater percentage of non-Estonians than Estonians underwent repeat abortions and obtained third and subsequent abortions. Most women did not use any contraceptive method prior to their first or subsequent abortion.


A high percentage of women obtaining repeat abortions reflects a high historical abortion rate. If current trends continue, a rapid decline in repeat abortions may be predicted. To decrease the burden of sexual ill health, routine contraceptive counselling, as standard care in the abortion process, should be seriously addressed with an emphasis on those groups - non-Estonians, women with lower educational attainment, students and women with children - vulnerable with respect to repeat abortion.

Induced abortion; Repeat abortion; Abortion trends; Estonian Abortion Registry; Contraception