New Study Sheds Light on Partner Violence and Reproductive Coercion
Friday, January 29, 2010 1:45 PM

28 January 2010


A groundbreaking study on reproductive coercion and birth control sabotage conducted by researchers at the University of California Davis School of Medicine and the Harvard School of Pubic Health has been released. Published in Contraception journal, “Pregnancy Coercion, Intimate Partner Violence and Unintended Pregnancy” is the first quantitative study that links reproductive coercion and unintended pregnancy to physical and sexual partner violence. The findings discredit the common assumption that young women become pregnant because they choose to not use contraception or want a baby. Instead, the findings indicate that male partners often sabotage the birth control of young women and teenage girls by damaging condoms and destroying contraceptives – behavior which is more commonly referred to as “reproductive coercion.”


The study was carried out among 16-29 year old women at five reproductive health clinics in Northern California from August 2008 to March 2009. Respondents were asked about birth control sabotage, pregnancy coercion, and intimate partner violence. The study found that approximately one in five women experienced pregnancy coercion, and 15% indicated that they had experienced birth control sabotage. Over half of the respondents indicated that they had experienced sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner, with 35% percent of these respondents also reporting pregnancy coercion or birth control sabotage.


Such findings suggest that in order to reduce unintended pregnancy, physical and sexual violence must be addressed. Teaching young women how to recognize, avoid, or leave abusive relationships will aid in achieving the goal. In addition, screenings of female patients for violence, pregnancy coercion, and birth control must occur at reproductive health clinics.


“This study highlights an under-recognized phenomenon where male partners actively attempt to promote pregnancy against the will of their female partners,” said the co-author of the study and an assistant professor at the UC Davis School of Medicine Elizabeth Miller.


“What this study shows is that reproductive coercion likely explains why unintended pregnancies are far more common among abused women and teens,” said Jay Silverman, the co-author of the study and an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.


Compiled from: “Study: Many Victims of Partner Violence Experience Reproductive Coercion,” Family Violence Prevention Fund.