Marianne Kjelsvik

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    How to make the right decision? Women’s experience of the decision process related to completing or terminating a pregnancy during the first trimester

    Marianne Kjelsvik, Norway

    According to the law Norwegian women have the right to decide on abortion within a limit of twelve weeks of pregnancy. Out of totally 75 000 pregnancies in Norway each year, 15 000 are terminated. Both in the group of women who decide to keep the foetus and in the group who choose to remove it, many have qualms about the decision. The aim of this phenomenological study was to seek in-depth information on women’s experience when they consider terminating a pregnancy in the first trimester.

    Qualitative interviews with four first time pregnant women between 25 and 32 years were conducted. None of them had decided whether to complete or terminate the pregnancy. Each woman was interviewed twice during a period of two weeks to grasp their experiences related to their uncertainty. Data were analysed by using Giorgi’s five step model of analysis.

    One main finding was that the women struggled to make “the right decision”. Several experienced disappointment and despair at the lack of understanding of their thoughts, feelings and vulnerability when they involved others in the decision making process. At the same time as they wanted autonomy they needed understanding and acknowledgment both from significant others and from health care providers.

    Consequently, more awareness of these matters among professionals as well as in society is necessary in order to assure that pregnant women get properly support to make their own decision.