International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 405-422

First online:

Predictors and Correlates of Abortion in the Fragile Families and Well-Being Study: Paternal Behavior, Substance Use, and Partner Violence

  • Priscilla K. ColemanAffiliated withBowling Green State University Email author 
  • , Charles David MaxeyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Bowling Green State University
  • , Maria SpenceAffiliated withDepartment of Social Work, University of Akron
  • , Charisse L. NixonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Penn State Erie

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This study was designed to identify predictors of the choice to abort or deliver a child within 18 months of a previous birth and to compare mothers who chose to abort or deliver relative to substance use and adverse partner behavior. Using a systems perspective, data from the Fragile Families and Well-Being Study were examined. The sample included participants from 16 cities, and within the selected cities, hospitals with high rates of unmarried births were chosen for inclusion in the survey. The data analysis process entailed two steps: 1) predictors of the choice to abort were identified statistically; 2) mothers who chose to abort and deliver were compared relative to heavy drinking, cigarette smoking, and adverse partner behavior after controlling for potentially confounding factors identified in step one. The results indicated that several variables pertaining to the father's commitment to raising a previously born child and to his relationship with the mother predicted the choice to abort. Further, a recent abortion was related to substance use and partner perpetrated physical aggression after the effects of confounding variables were removed.Professionals who work with women from impoverished environments facing an unplanned pregnancy should be encouraged to sensitively explore the woman’s support system. If the father is unavailable, counselors can assist women in identifying other sources of support within and outside the family.


Substance use Partner violence Induced abortion