Reproductive Coercion and Domestic Violence

Half of pregnancies in the US are “unintended.”  A new study from Michigan State raises questions about what “unintended” really means.

“Reproductive coercion” involves one partner forcing the other into a pregnancy or into terminating a pregnancy against that partner’s will.  As with most abuse, the stereotype holds the male as abuser and the female as victim.  That’s often true, but not always.

Victims of reproductive coercion are often also victims of domestic violence — physical, mental or both.  Coercion doesn’t have to involve a threat.  It can be an act as simple as intentionally breaking a condom or other device or skipping a pill. The resulting pregnancy is a surprise to one partner but not the other.

What are the odds of a relationship lasting if one partner is willing to stoop to that?

Intentional sabotage of birth control methods makes reliability figures meaningless.

The Michigan State study provides a list of questions for caregivers to ask to determine if a pregnancy is the result of coercion.  Will doctors want to ask those questions?  What will they do with the answers?  How knows.

The bottom line is that if you don’t want to be a parent, you have to take control of the means of prevention yourself.  Not only do you have a right to control what happens to your body, you need to accept the responsibility to do so.


  1. Michigan State University. “Study gives doctors guidance on ‘reproductive coercion’.” ScienceDaily, 11 October 2016. <>.
  2. Miller, Elizabeth, et. al., “Recent reproductive coercion and unintended pregnancy among female family planning clients,” Contraception, 2014; 89 (2): 122 DOI: 10.1016/j.contraception.2013.10.011
  3. Reproductive and sexual coercion. Committee Opinion No. 554. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2013;121:411–5. February 2013.
  4. “Reproductive coercion,” National Committee on Domestic Violence.

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