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This report explores issues related to fertility among young women age 15-19 and to abortion among women age 15-49 in Cambodia, based on two Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted in 2010 and 2014. In 2014, approximately one in every eight young Cambodian women age 15-19 either already had a live birth or were currently pregnant with their first child. Teenage fertility increased from 8% in 2010 to 12% in 2014. In general, teenage fertility in Cambodia rises with increasing age, lower household wealth, and lower levels of education. The proportion of early childbearing is alarmingly higher among young women without any education. The largest fertility increase among young women between the two surveys was found for those with no education, from 17% in 2010 to 37% in 2014, an increase of 20 percentage points. Teenage fertility also significantly increased between surveys for women age 18, women residing in rural areas, women in the Great Lake and Plateau regions, women not using a contraceptive method, and women regularly exposed to the media. Teenagers currently using contraceptive methods were much more likely to have had a live birth compared with non-users. Early childbearing among young women in Cambodia is nearly exclusively among those in union. It is likely that a significant percentage of young women start using a contraceptive method only after giving birth to their first child.
The prevalence of abortion increased significantly between the two surveys among women age 15-49, from 5% in 2010 to 7% in 2014. Significant increases in abortion were found for many subgroups: the largest were for women in Phnom Penh region, at 7.1 percentage points, for women in the richest wealth group, at 4.3 percentage points, and women in urban areas, at 4.0 percentage points. The reported increase in the abortion rate in Phnom Penh region may be due to an influx of young female migrant workers, among whom contraceptive prevalence is much lower than the national average. There was no substantial increase in late-term abortion between surveys (from 3.3% in 2010 to 3.7% in 2014). A significant increase in late-term abortion was found only for the highest wealth category (1.3 percentage points) and for women in the Plain region (1 percentage point). The prevalence of early abortion, however, increased significantly from 2.6% in 2010 to 4.1% in 2014, particularly among women with non-working husbands, from 1.4% to 10.3%, followed by women residing in Phnom Penh, from 2.3% to 8.0%.
For overall abortion, late-term, and early abortion, the odds of having an abortion were significantly higher among currently contraceptive users compared with non-users. This was evident in both surveys, except for late-term abortion in 2010. This finding implies that following an abortion women are trying to prevent another pregnancy by adopting contractive use. A significant proportion of abortions were performed by unqualified providers (non-skilled birth attendants) or outside of a health facility, although such abortions are against the law in Cambodia. Attendance by a skilled attendant or performed at a health facility was more common among women who had a late-term abortion than among those with an early abortion.