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Understanding sex-selective abortion, perceived access, and stigma in northern Vietnam

Emily Treleaven, MPH, University of California, San Francisco, 2015

Project abstract

Vietnam has one of the highest rates of abortion in the world. It also has a recent history of son preference, demonstrating a skewed sex ratio at birth (SRB) in the past decade. The SRB is especially skewed in northern Vietnam, and varies by socio-demographic characteristics and parity. The country has a total fertility rate of 1.89 children per woman, and many families seek to have at least one boy. While abortion is legal, sex-selective abortion and fetal sex determination are not. It is unknown where women seek these services, whether they are with safe, quality providers, and whether women face stigma or discrimination. If women face stigma or discrimination for seeking sex-selective abortion, they may seek this service with unsafe providers.

In this project, I aim to apply a novel method, the list experiment method, to measure the prevalence of fetal sex determination in northern Vietnam using difference-in-differences analysis, in order to understand the proportion of women who undergo sex-selective abortion after learning fetal sex. I will assess women’s knowledge of and access to fetal sex determination and sex-selective abortion, and the perceived quality, safety, and stigma of these services among a cohort of women in northern Vietnam. Finally, I will assess how socio-demographic characteristics and gender norms are associated with knowledge, attitudes, and access.

A deeper understanding of sex-selective abortion in Vietnam will aid providers and policymakers in understanding and addressing women’s risks around sex-selective abortion, repeat abortion, and the safety, quality, and stigma of these services.


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