A survey has found more than one out of 10 women who had elective abortions in Iowa were physically or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner in the past year. University of Iowa professor of epidemiology Audrey Saftlas is the lead author of the study which involved nearly 1,000 women.
She says almost 14% of the women receiving an abortion reported at least one incident of physical or sexual abuse in the previous 12 months. Participants in the study remained anonymous by completing computer-based questionnaires. Nearly three of every four women who reported intimate partner violence identified a former partner as the perpetrator, while roughly one in four women identified their current partner as the abuser.
“This indicates there’s a need for targeted screening of such women because they’re high risk for intimate partner violence,” Saftlas said. “That screening should be followed by referral to the appropriate community based resources and supports that can help these women reduce the violence in their lives.”
The University of Iowa partnered with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland on the study which was recently published online in the American Journal of Public Health. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Chief Operating Officer Penny Dickey says her organization currently screens patients for intimate partner violence. “But now we need to do more to connect victims with the support and resources they need,” Dickey said.