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Reproductive coercion is about power, control, and trickery

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It's about power, manipulation, and control when one person tricks another into pregnancy. Too many males are sabotaging the birth control methods of their female partners in order to force the women to become pregnant. And some women sabotage or eliminate their usual birth control methods to get pregnant when the partner doesn't want a baby. It can happen to male or female. But often when a male sabotages a female's birth control, its more about control and abuse or manipulation than using the baby to keep the husband at home.

The male uses sabotage or trickery to get his wife or partner pregnant to keep her under his control and in the home so she doesn't leave him. Sometimes the woman also uses a pregnancy to prevent a man from leaving her. But sometimes it's just to have a child and stay at home with the baby.

When a man tricks a woman into getting pregnant, the sabotaging usually is done in secret so that the woman has no idea that her birth control method is not working. It's almost like a secret rape in which the woman is not aware she's being forced to conceive by her partner.

When a man tricks a woman into getting pregnant, almost a third of the time, the woman experiences intimate violence in the marriage or partnership

Not many women batter their husbands with physical abuse if the man doesn't want a baby and the woman plans on stopping her birth control method. And of women reporting reproductive coercion in a new study, almost a third also experienced violence in their relationship. You may wish to check out the abstract of a new study, "Reproductive coercion and co-occurring intimate partner violence in obstetrics and gynecology patients" published online in the January 2014 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Reproductive coercion is male behavior to control contraception and pregnancy outcomes of female partners. In a new study researchers examined the prevalence of reproductive coercion and co-occurring intimate partner violence among women presenting for routine care at a large, urban obstetrics and gynecology clinic, according to the study's abstract.

A male who forces his partner or spouse to get pregnant is using forced childbirth similar to an act of rape in order to bond his partner to him by using a baby as the way to prevent her from leaving him. It's about control. The more child-like the woman becomes, the more parental-like control he has over keeping her 'grounded' and not thinking of leaving him to have her own career and independence or for another partner.

It's also possible but much rarer with same sex female partners, where one artificially inseminates the partner, but of course, less likely without the cooperation of a semen donor. On the other hand, almost all cases of coerced pregnancy is between a controlling man afraid his wife or partner will leave him and his female partner, friend, or spouse, who's financially dependent on him as well as tied emotionally to him. It is about control. See the article, "15 Warning Signs He Doesn’t Support Your Contraceptive Choices."

It's another story when a woman so desperate for a baby or another child tricks her husband into getting her pregnant by refraining from her birth control method but telling her partner/husband that she's using protection. The reason why a woman wants a baby also can be to control her husband to prevent him from leaving her pregnant or with a new baby, since she can sue him for child support. But the underlying reason for tricked or coerced pregnancy be it on the male or female side, is to control the partner or to coerce the partner to agree on bringing a baby into the family.

The solution often lies in finding the root cause of the issue rather than the symptom, which is fear of being alone without the partner. The child then becomes the glue to hold the couple together, even when there's abuse of the partner when control and manipulation appears to weaken. The baby becomes like a bandage covering a wound that doesn't heal in a marriage or domestic partnership often wrought with abuse, manipulation, sabotage, and control out of fear, low self-esteem, and insecurity often seen in both partners, if the woman stays after finding out she was tricked into pregnancy by her controller.

Reproductive coercion and intimate partner violence are prevalent among women seeking medical care, says a new study

Researchers from Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island were part of a team that published the new study. "Reproductive coercion, co-occurring with intimate partner violence, is prevalent among women seeking general obstetrics and gynecology care," notes Rebecca H. Allen, MD, of Women and Infants. She and Amy S. Gottlieb, MD, of the hospital's Women's Primary Care Center, participated in the study of 641 women ages 18 to 44, along with Chris Raker, ScD, a statistician in the hospital's Division of Research.

Enough women experience reproductive coercion – male behavior to control contraception and pregnancy outcomes – that a research team now recommends health care providers address the subjects with their patients and tailor family planning discussions and recommendations accordingly.

Study participants completed anonymous surveys. The survey defined reproductive coercion as:

  • Pregnancy coercion, such as a male partner threatening to harm the woman physically or psychologically (with infidelity or abandonment) if she did not become pregnant
  • Birth control sabotage, such as flushing oral contraceptive pills down the toilet, intentionally breaking or removing condoms, or inhibiting a woman's ability to obtain contraception

"This is a far too common problem in this country. A study of 9,000 women by the National Center for Injury Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that at least 9% of adult females in the United States have experienced reproductive coercion," Dr. Gottlieb explains, according to the February 26, 2014 news release, Reproductive coercion, intimate partner violence prevalent. "Such coercion could have tremendous impact on a woman's ability to plan pregnancies or control her own fertility."

In addition, reproductive coercion has been associated with intimate partner violence, including threats, physical injury, or sexual abuse. This study is the first to examine both measurements – reproductive coercion and intimate partner violence – in the same relationship.

"We wanted to investigate the co-occurrence of these two types of male behavior toward female intimate partners," Dr. Gottlieb says, according to the February 26, 2014 news release, "Reproductive coercion, intimate partner violence prevalent." Among the women who reported reproductive coercion, 32% experienced intimate partner violence in the same relationship.

Nearly half of the women who experienced birth control sabotage also reported intimate partner violence, as did more than one third of the women who experienced pregnancy coercion

"This is helpful information for health care providers who should tailor the reproductive care they deliver to each patient's particular situation," Dr. Allen says in the news release. "Asking questions about reproductive coercion and intimate partner violence is key to giving a woman the family planning counseling she needs."

Reproductive coercion with co-occurring intimate partner violence is prevalent among women seeking general obstetrics and gynecology care. Health care providers should routinely assess reproductive-age women for reproductive coercion and intimate partner violence and tailor their family planning discussions and recommendations accordingly, notes the study's abstract. You also may wish to take a look at the article, "Reproductive Coercion: A Widespread Form of Domestic Violence."

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