The term reproductive coercion is used to define a range of male partner pregnancy-controlling behaviours. Reproductive coercion is an easy and effective and cowardly way of manipulating and controlling a woman by limiting her autonomy over her fertility and reproductive health and choices. Women can experience coercion from a partner to either become pregnant or progress with a pregnancy they do not want, or to terminate a pregnancy they wish to continue.
One in four women in the US visiting sexual health clinics were experiencing reproductive coercion. The Queensland, Australian organization, Children by Choice report that one in seven of their clients were experiencing reproductive coercion. Children by Choice have been collecting and recording small samples of data throughout the past few years. While national data exists to show one in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence, more work must be done on researching and responding to the overlap between the two.
They say “Our early data collection on reproductive coercion shows us that around a third of all women reporting domestic violence to us also reported reproductive coercion.”
Ways to facilitate warning signs and signals that someone is in a coercive situation are to direct them to non-judgemental counselling in the local area or over the phone, preferably in a trauma-informed practice, and knowing what reproductive and sexual health services are available. One way of doing this was to get the patient on their own, which could be done by telling the support person it was standard procedure at the clinic.
If you feel you are suffering from reproductive coercion or in a relationship with a sexually coercive partner, please call the counselling service Children By Choice on 07 3357 5377.