Updated at 3 p.m. EST to include remarks from Dr. David Reardon.

LONDON, January 8, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – One out of every four women who seeks an abortion has been a victim of abuse, according to a new meta-analysis.

In the study, which was published online yesterday in the peer-reviewed open access journal PLOS Medicine, the researchers found that intimate partner violence (IPV) is associated with higher abortion rates and repeat abortions.

The meta-analysis, which examined 74 studies of women around the world, found that between 2.5 and 30 percent of abused women have had an abortion within the last year. That rates soars to between 14 and 40 percent over a lifetime.

Physical, mental, psychological or sexual abuse – as well as “coerced decision-making” – were linked to higher abortion rates and repeat abortions. The authors refer to multiple studies over the last decade, including a 2005 report that found women were 10 times more likely to abort a planned pregnancy. Studies showed between two and 18 percent of women said they felt coerced to have the abortion.

Post-abortion women have testified that they were forced to abort by parents, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, husbands, abusers, even policemen.

“These findings reinforce the broad consensus that there is a significant relationship between induced abortion and violence against women,” Dr. Jacqueline C. Harvey of the Reproductive Research Audit (RRA) told LifeSiteNews.com. This “suggests that for many women, the choice to have an abortion is not made freely, but from fear,” said Harvey, who testified about the issue before the Texas legislature last July.

Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy analyst at Operation Rescue, told LifeSiteNews the survey confirms her own observations. “The most dangerous time for women is during pregnancy when they are at risk of increased domestic violence attacks, especially if their partners want them to have an abortion against their will,” she said.

Even the National Organization for Women has recognized that murder is the leading cause of death for pregnant women.

Dr. David Reardon, director of The Elliot Institute, which produced a 21-page report on forced abortions in 2004, explained the psychology of the abusers to LifeSiteNews. “In most cases of abuse, these are not men who want to have children,” he said. “They see the pregnancy as threat to their freedom and control and domination, being the focus of the woman's affections, so they see the child as a threat to themselves.”

The forced abortions can lead to a vicious circle of abuse, he warned. “As a result of an increased guilt, anger, rage, and other issues that they face, women who had abortions can become more self-destructive, so they may seek out abusive relationships as a form of self-punishment,” he said.

Because of this high rate, abortionists “should consider the possibility that women seeking termination of pregnancy may be experiencing intimate partner violence,” the study's five authors wrote.

Harvey said, “The take away from this meta-analysis is the cry for help – the willingness and desire these women have to escape violent relationships and the need for clinics to put patients over profits and help these women at risk, rather than merely taking their money and returning them to their abusers.”

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Susan Bewley, a consultant obstetrician at King's College in London and one of the study's authors, found that abortion-minded women "welcomed the opportunity to disclose their experiences ... and to be offered help." She even suggested that abortion facilities "represent an appropriate setting in which to test interventions designed to reduce intimate partner violence."

But pro-lifers did not hold out any hope that the billion-dollar abortion industry will change its ways.

“If anyone thinks that abortionists might be willing to intervene on behalf of these women, they are sadly mistaken,” Sullenger said. “Abortionists are more likely to cover up for the abusers, as long as they can get paid for the abortion.”

Instead, the abortion industry has a history of fighting and then ignoring laws requiring abortionists to report abuse. As of January 1, Dr. Ulrich George Klopfer had to shut down his abortion facility in Indiana after failing to report the potential statutory rape of minor girls to state officials under the terms of the law. Undercover investigations have shown abortion workers telling minors how to cover up for their abusers.

Sometimes abortionists themselves are the perpetrators. In 2003, a jury convicted Arizona abortionist Brian Finkel of 24 counts of sexual abuse. Abortion employees from California to Michigan, from Oregon to Pennsylvania, and from England to Ghana have been convicted or accused of sexually abusing women during the abortion procedure.

“This kind of violence against women is an unfortunate consequence of abortion on demand,” Sullenger told LifeSiteNews. “It ironically robs many abused women of their 'choice' to keep their babies, and perhaps that is why domestic violence against pregnant women seems to be a low priority for the 'abortion-rights' movement.”