What is Reproductive Coercion?
Any time a partner maintains power and control in an intimate relationship that relates to a woman’s reproductive health. It really is just a fancy word for sexual abuse.
Here are some examples of reproductive coercion:
- Forcing a woman to engage in any sexual act she doesn’t want
- Hiding, destroying or refusing to pay for a woman’s birth control
- Pulling out vaginal rings or IUDs
- Breaking condoms on purpose
- Accusing a woman of cheating if she asks to use contraception.
Once she becomes pregnant, these behaviors might include:
- Forcing her to carry her baby to term if she doesn’t want to
- Forcing her to get an abortion if she doesn’t want to
- Injuring her in a way that causes her to have a miscarriage.
It also may include passing a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) to her without her knowledge, or against her will.
Do you ever wonder why your neighbor has one baby after another, when she is obviously exhausted, and cannot take good care of the children she already has? It is possible that this is a decision that she and her husband have made together, or that the Lord has made for her. It is also possible that she may be the victim of reproductive coercion.
Do you ever wonder why young unmarried girls on welfare have one baby after another? There is a very good chance that they are victims of reproductive coercion.
What good does it do to give condoms or the Pill to a teen mother when she is afraid of what her partner will do if he finds her with birth control?[i] It also doesn’t make sense to look at that teen as if she were irresponsible in her choices if the “choice” to have a child is coerced.
It would be much better for doctors or clinic workers to educate her about what a healthy relationship looks like, and educate her about reproductive coercion. It would also give her a safe person to go to if and when she is willing to seek help.
Now that you are aware of what reproductive coercion looks like, could you be that safe person for your neighbor, or the young girl that you run into in the grocery store? Instead of looking down on her because of her poor choices, you could have empathy for her, and be a listening ear.
What would Jesus want you to do?