File this one in the OH GOD drawer. According to New York magazine, “birth-control sabotage and pregnancy coercion” is on the rise. Kat Stoeffel writes, “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.”
This phenomenon has become so problematic that “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.” So the next time you go get a pap smear, be prepared to be asked something like, “Does your partner support your decision about when or if you want to become pregnant?”
Over the past few years we here at Babble have written about a few random instances of pregnancy coercion, but it sickens me to think that reproductive sabotage is actually becoming a trend. Stoeffel notes, “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.” She adds, “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.”
You may think that being young and poor puts women at greater risk for this relationship dynamic, but studies have shown that “birth-control sabotage and pregnancy coercion happen at a similar rate across socioeconomic and educational backgrounds” and that “the single highest risk factor for reproductive coercion was being unmarried and sexually active.”
This is where Conservative pundits chime in and say, “See ladies? This is why you should be married.” But then that, of course, is just a coercion of its own. “Marry me. I’ll protect you. If you don’t marry me, someone is going to try to get you pregnant.” The reminder here is: if you don’t give us what we want, one of us will take it from you some way somehow.
Activists and medical professionals hope to make more women aware that reproductive coercion is a phenomenon, does have a name and is abuse, but many of them admit to only really identifying the problem themselves very recently, according to Stoeffel. To learn more about this disturbing issue, read the full article here.
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