‘I had no control over my body’: Women’s experiences of reproductive coercion in Aotearoa New Zealand

Kate Burry, Natalie Thorburn, Ang Jury

Abstract


INTRODUCTION: Reproductive coercion broadly describes behaviour intended to undermine the reproductive autonomy of a victim through pregnancy coercion, contraceptive sabotage, and controlling pregnancy outcomes. This research sought to understand the experiences of victims of reproductive coercion in Aotearoa New Zealand.

METHODS: Participants shared their experiences of reproductive coercion from an intimate partner through an online survey that was distributed via social media and posters that were put up primarily in Family Planning clinics across the country. Five participants subsequently participated in in-depth interviews.

FINDINGS: Participants (mostly women) in this research experienced high rates of controlled access to contraceptives (83.8%), contraceptive sabotage (58.6%), and pregnancy coercion (64%) by an intimate partner. Furthermore, 40.5% of participants who had ever been pregnant had experienced a partner attempting to prevent them from accessing an abortion, and over 30% were subjected to a partner’s attempts to force an induced abortion or miscarriage. Many also expanded on their partners’ coercion regarding reproductive decisions, and abuse during, and after, labour and birth. However, they were rarely asked about reproductive coercion and abuse by health care or social service practitioners.

CONCLUSIONS: Reproductive coercion is a phenomenon that is globally under-researched. Emerging evidence suggests this is a highly gendered issue, and that there needs to be greater focus on promoting how we can improve and protect women’s reproductive autonomy. Findings from this research indicate the need to incorporate discussions about reproductive autonomy and coercion in screening for intimate partner violence.


Keywords


Reproductive coercion; intimate partner violence; coercive control

Full Text:

PDF

References


Bawah, A. A., Akweongo, P., Simmons, R., & Phillips, J. F. (1999). Women’s fears and men’s anxieties: The impact of family planning on gender relations in northern Ghana. Studies in Family Planning, 30(1), 54–66.

Black, M. C., Basile, K. C., Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M. T., ... Stevens, M. R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Blanc, A. K., Wolff, B., Gage, A. J., Ezeh, A. C., Neema, S., & Ssekamatte-Ssebuliba, J. (1996). Negotiating reproductive health outcomes in Uganda. Calverton, MD: Macro International Inc, and Kampala, Uganda: Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics, Makerere University.

Biddlecom, A. E., & Fapohunda, B. M. (1998). Covert contraceptive use: Prevalence, motivations, and consequences. Studies in Family Planning, 29(4), 360–372.

Bouchard, K. (2016). Anonymity as a double-edge sword: Reflecting on the implications of online qualitative research in studying sensitive topics. The Qualitative Report, 21(1), 59–67.

Bustan, M. N., & Coker, A. L. (1994). Maternal attitude toward pregnancy and the risk of neonatal death. American Journal of Public Health, 84(3), 411–414.

Campbell, J., Torres, S., Ryan, J., King, C., Campbell, D. W., Stalling, R. Y., & Fuchs, S. C. (1999). Physical and nonphysical partner abuse and other risk factors for low birth weight among full term and preterm babies: A multiethnic case-control study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 150(7), 714-726.

Clark, C. J., Silverman, J., Khalaf, I. A., Ra’ad, A. B., Al Sha’ar, Z. A., & Al Ata, A. A., & Batieha, A. (2008). Intimate partner violence and interference with women’s efforts to avoid pregnancy in Jordan. Studies in Family Planning, 39(2), 123–132.

Clark, L. E., Allen, R. H., Goyal, V., Raker, C., & Gottlieb, A. S. (2014). Reproductive coercion and co-occurring intimate partner violence in obstetrics and gynecology patients. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 210(42), 1–8.

Coker, A. L. (2007). Does physical intimate partner violence affect sexual health? A systematic review. Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 8(2), 149–177.

Cokkinides, V. E., Coker, A. L., Sanders, M., Addy, C., & Bethea, L. (1999). Physical violence during pregnancy: Maternal complications and birth outcomes. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 93(5), 661–666.

Coggins, M., & Bullock, L. F. (2003). The wavering line in the sand: The effects of domestic violence and sexual coercion. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 24, 723–738.

Connell, R. W. (1987). Gender and power: Society, the person and sexual politics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Family Planning New Zealand. (2015, November 25).

Reproductive coercion: A form of intimate partner violence. Retrieved from https://www.familyplanning.org. nz/news/2015/reproductive-coercion

Fanslow, J. (2017). Intimate partner violence and women’s reproductive health. Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, 27(5), 148–157.

García-Moreno, C., Jansen, H. A. F. M., Ellsberg, M., Heise, L., & Watts, C. (2005). WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

Hathaway, J. E., Willis, G., Zimmer, B., & Silverman, J. G. (2005). Impact of partner abuse on women’s reproductive lives. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 60(1), 42–45.

Janssen, P. A., Holt, V. L., Sugg, N. K., Emanuel, I., Critchlow, C. M., & Henderson, A. D. (2003). Intimate partner violence and adverse pregnancy outcomes: A population-based study. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 188(5), 1341–1347.

Kays, K. M., Keith, T. L., & Broughal, M. T. (2013). Best practice in online survey research with sensitive topics. In N. Sappleton (Ed.), Advancing research methods with new technologies (pp. 157–168). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, IGI Global.

Laukaran, V. H., & van den Berg, B. J. (1980). The relationship of maternal attitude to pregnancy outcomes and obstetric complications: A cohort study of unwanted pregnancy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 136(3), 374–379.

Martin, S. L., English, K. T., Clark, K. A., Cilenti, D., & Kupper, L. (1996). Violence and substance use among North Carolina pregnant women. Journal of Emergency Medicine, 15(1), 127–128.

Martin, S. L., Matza, L. S., Kupper, L. L., Thomas, J. C., Daly, M., & Cloutier, S. (1999). Domestic violence and sexually transmitted diseases: The experience of prenatal care patients. Public Health Reports, 114(3), 262–268.

McFarlane, J., Campbell, J. C., Sharps, P., & Watson, K. (2002). Abuse during pregnancy and femicide: Urgent implications for women’s health. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 100(1), 27–36.

McFarlane, J., Parker, B., & Soeken, K. (1996a). Abuse during pregnancy: Associations with maternal health and infant weight. Nursing Research, 45(1), 37–42.

McFarlane, J., Parker, B., & Soeken, K. (1996b). Physical abuse, smoking, and substance use during pregnancy: Prevalence, interrelationships, and effects on birth weight. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 25(4), 313–320.

Miller, E., Decker, M. R., McCauley. H. L., Tancredi, D. J., Levenson, R. R., Waldman, J., & Silverman, J. G. (2010). Pregnancy coercion, intimate partner violence and unintended pregnancy. Contraception, 81(4), 316–322.

Miller, E., Decker, M. R., Reed, E., Raj, A., Hathaway, J. E., & Silverman, J. G. (2007). Male partner pregnancy- promoting behaviors and adolescent partner violence: Findings from a qualitative study with adolescent females. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 7, 360–366.

Moore, A. M., Frohwirth, L., & Miller, E. (2010). Male reproductive control of women who have experienced intimate partner violence in the United States. Social Science & Medicine, 70(11), 1737–1744.

Neville, S., Adams, J., & Cook, C. (2016). Using internet- based approaches to collect qualitative data from vulnerable groups: Reflections from the field. Contemporary Nurse, 52(6), 657–668.

Njovana, E., & Watts, C. (1996). Gender violence in Zimbabwe: A need for collaborative action. Reproductive Health Matters, 4(7), 46-55.

Pallitto, C. C., Campbell, J. C., & O’Campo, P. (2005). Is intimate partner violence associated with unintended pregnancy? A review of the literature. Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 6(3), 217–235.

Pallitto, C. C., & O’Campo, P. (2005). Community level effects of gender inequality on intimate partner violence and unintended pregnancy in Colombia: Testing the feminist perspective. Social Science and Medicine, 60, 2205–2216.

Park, J., Nordstrom, S. K., Weber, K. M., & Irwin, T. (2016). Reproductive coercion: Unlocking an imbalance of social power. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 214(1), 74–78.

Plichta, S. B., & Abraham, C. (1996). Violence and gynaecological health in women < 50 years old. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 174, 903–907.

Sexton, N. R., Miller, H. M., & Dietsch, A. M. (2011). Appropriate uses and considerations for online surveying in human dimensions research. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 16(3), 154–163.

Stark, E. (2009). Rethinking coercive control. Violence Against Women, 15(12), 1509–1525.

Watts, C., & Mayhew, S. (2004). Reproductive health services and intimate partner violence: Shaping a pragmatic response in Sub-Saharan Africa. International Family Planning Perspectives, 30(4), 207–213.

Wingood, G. M., & DiClemente, R. J. (1997). The effects of an abusive primary partner on the condom use and sexual negotiation practices of African-American women. American Journal of Public Health, 87(6), 1016–1018.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol32iss1id701

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.