Background: In Curaçao is a high incidence of unintended pregnancies and induced abortions. Most of the induced abortions in Curaçao are on request of the woman and performed by general practitioners. In Curaçao, induced abortion is strictly prohibited, but since 1999 there has been a policy of connivance. We present data on the relevance of economic and socio-cultural factors for the high abortion-rates and the ineffective use of contraception. Methods. Structured interviews to investigate knowledge and attitudes toward sexuality, contraception and abortion and reasons for ineffective use of contraceptives among women, visiting general practitioners. Results: Of 158 women, 146 (92%) participated and 82% reported that their education on sexuality and about contraception was of good quality. However 'knowledge of reliable contraceptive methods' appeared to be - in almost 50% of the cases - false information, misjudgements or erroneous views on the chance of getting pregnant using coitus interruptus and about the reliability and health effects of oral contraceptive pills. Almost half of the interviewed women had incorrect or no knowledge about reliability of condom use and IUD. 42% of the respondents risked by their behavior an unplanned pregnancy. Most respondents considered abortion as an emergency procedure, not as contraception. Almost two third experienced emotional, physical or social problems after the abortion. Conclusions: Respondents had a negative attitude toward reliable contraceptives due to socio-cultural determined ideas about health consequences and limited sexual education. Main economic factors were costs of contraceptive methods, because most health insurances in Curaçao do not cover contraceptives. To improve the effective use of reliable contraceptives, more adequate information should be given, targeting the wrong beliefs and false information. The government should encourage health insurance companies to reimburse contraceptives. Furthermore, improvement of counseling during the abortion procedure is important. © 2011 van den Brink et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.