When I first wrote here about the men I called Testicle Defenders (four years ago — how time flies!), I had trouble finding reputable links to statistics on pregnancy-related domestic abuse. Turns out there are more doctors and scientists looking at this problem now, which is an excellent thing. Kat Stoeffel, at NYMag‘s fashion-celebrities-shopping-and-other-chickcentric-stuff blog:
If you don’t hear much these days about the stereotypical gold digger who lies about being on the pill to ensnare a man into marriage or eighteen years of child support payments, that may be because doctors are now being told to look for just the opposite: The woman whose partner sabotages her birth control. She’s not so hard to find.
Early this year, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a committee recommendation urging ob-gyns to screen patients for these behaviors, collectively known as reproductive coercion. Whether women were in for an annual exam, a pregnancy test, or a second trimester visit, it recommended asking questions like, “Does your partner support your decision about when or if you want to become pregnant?”
The ACOG’s strategy reflects a growing body of research that identifies reproductive coercion as a unique form of domestic or intimate partner violence, and offers an explanation for the high rates of unintended pregnancies among women in abusive relationships. Increasingly, birth-control sabotage is viewed as a tool not for baby-crazed female stalkers, but for a class of predominantly male abusers who want to exercise control over their partner’s body, make her dependent upon them, or secure a long-term presence in her life…
In Miller’s 2010 study, one of the largest on reproductive coercion to date, 15 percent of 1,300 women who visited federal- and state-subsidized California family-planning clinics had their birth control sabotaged. One in five had been urged by a boyfriend not to use birth control, or told by a boyfriend he would leave her if she wouldn’t get pregnant. A larger portion of respondents, 35 percent, who reported intimate partner violence (IPV) also reported birth-control sabotage…
Miller’s co-author Rebecca Levenson, a senior policy analyst for Futures Without Violence, said she expects more and diverse women will come forward as information about reproductive coercion spreads and women recognize it as a kind of abuse. “Naming something is powerful,” she said. But first, she hopes the research will inform the many doctors who are in a position to directly intervene and reduce the reproductive harm facing IPV victims — be it an unwanted pregnancy, an expensive abortion, or the unhappy extension of a bad relationship — but don’t know to ask. Harm-reduction strategies range from offering birth control or emergency contraceptives in plain packaging to switching women to a stealthier method, like Depo Provera hormone shots or an IUD with the strings clipped….
Naming is powerful. Read the whole thing, which includes links to resources for women who are currently in ‘reprodcutively coercive’ or other IPV (intimate partner violence) peril.