Abortions are known to be underreported in surveys due to a number of barriers that even exist in the societies where it is legal to get an abortion. The already existing literature has found a number of ways in which survey methodology may affect respondents’ willingness to disclose abortions. The social and political climate surrounding abortion may also create stigma. Such stigmas are affecting abortion reporting. However, along with the socio-political environment, this may vary between countries and over time.

The study made efforts to estimate the extent of underreporting in three nationally representative population surveys by comparing survey rates with routine statistics, in order to explore the ways in which survey methodology and cultural context might influence reporting of abortion. Data are analyzed from two National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, conducted in 2000 and 2010 in Britain, and the FECOND conducted in 2010 in France. The three surveys differ with regard to survey methodology and context.

There was no strong evidence of underreporting on abortion using a direct question. There was evidence of underreporting on abortion through a pregnancy-history module.

The study concluded through its findings that a direct question may be more effective in eliciting reports of abortion than a pregnancy-history module.

Reference: https://srh.bmj.com/content/45/3/213