Fertility control and improved partnerships? - A discussion of how the possibility to exercise "negative" fertility control influences relationships, family formation and childbearing
Knudsen, Lisbeth B.
Sociology, Social Work and Organisation Aalborg University Aalborg, Denmark
In the late modern society, family formation and childbearing are considered to be subject to couples´ joint decisions and to their reflective constructing and maintaining of reflective life biographies. This view implies that individuals must make a number of choices as well as deselections regarding their lives, including their intimate lives, depending on their actual options, living conditions and their notions of the future. Both the choice of partner, of co-parent and the decision to have a child are subject of these conditions.
Women in Denmark are able to deselect having a child at a given time and with a partner who they do not want as co-parent, by using contraceptives and with pregnancy interruption as a last resort. Induced abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy has been available on request in Denmark for 35 years and some recent studies have focused on familial and ethnic characteristics of women, who have an induced abortion.
Results based on register data have shown an almost constant decline in the general rate of abortion (women 15-49 years) in Denmark since the peak in 1976 and that both the levels and trends vary according to the woman´s age, family situation, number of children, ethnicity, place of living (urbanisation) and educational attainment. Questionnaire data have documented that the quality of the relation to the partner, if any and the woman´s ideal number of children also influences whether she chooses induced abortion. The knowledge about and use of contraceptive has also been shown to vary according to e.g. age and ethnicity. The finding that the first birth probability increases among women who have an abortion, and that this is almost entirely seen among single women, points at an interesting mix of societal and biological influences.
In this paper I will present and compare the various findings based on different sources and discuss the meaning of the possibility to control fertility in the 'negative' way and how this possibility influences relationships, family formation and childbearing.