Reproductive Sabotage: More Common Than You Think

As if verbal, emotional or sexual violence weren’t enough for victims of domestic abuse to worry about, a new pattern of abuse in relationships is emerging: reproductive coercion.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) put out a warning in January about reproductive coercion, saying that some men purposely sabotage their partners’ birth control efforts in order to get them pregnant. Recent research showed that a surprising amount of men actually do things like puncture holes in condoms, snatch birth control pills and even rip out women’s IUDs.

Um, excuse me? No.

Research also shows that reproductive coercion, which also includes verbal threats or physical aggression to pressure a woman into getting pregnant, isn’t just happening to young women who are already in damaging relationships. Doctors have come across women whose normally agreeable husbands try to get them pregnant against their will and make them feel guilty if they refuse. The survey, led by Rebecca Levenson of Futures Without Violence, showed that 13 percent of women, out of 641 females aged 18 to 41, have experienced this type of abuse, and one-third of those women also suffered violence from their male partners.

This is whole different level of creepy and controlling. I mean, women are actually having their IUDs pulled out of their bodies! What is going on?

One woman told Levenson her partner’s reasoning was so he “could keep her in his life forever.”

Jay Silverman, who studies violence against women at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, says that husbands and boyfriends are more actively involved in blocking women’s access to birth control than previously thought: “All the different forms of violence and coercion of women and girls from male partners are based in the entitlement to control their lives, physically and otherwise,” Silverman said. “They also feel entitled to decide whether she’s going to get pregnant or not.”

It’s all about the choice and power. I’m sure these men absolutely do not and would not support their wives’ or girlfriends’ choice to have an abortion. And with the multitude of abortion restrictions across the country, women don’t have an out if their partners force them to get pregnant.

Hmm, I wonder if these men and some republicans in Congress have anything in common?

Not only do some politicians make it their mission to keep women from accessing birth control or getting abortions, some also feel the need to publicly blast their misogynistic ideals and shame women about their reproductive rights.

GOP lawmakers in Texas attempted to pass at least 24 anti-abortion laws in the last year, and they approved the recent abortion bill, restricting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, while hearing screaming, angry protesters in the background. Rick Perry proclaimed, “It is a very happy, celebratory day,” as he signed the abortion restrictions into law. It’s like they enjoy pretending that women don’t exist, even with a horde of enraged women outside the Senate doors.

Luckily, obstetricians are here to help women who suffer from domestic attacks on their contraceptives. (Unfortunately, they can’t do anything about Rick Perry and company). The ACOG and other advocates for women are urging doctors to be on the lookout for signs of reproductive coercion, as well as to specifically ask patients if they’ve ever experienced this behavior from their partners. It is also recommended that health care providers advise women to take their birth control out of its packaging and put it in a different container or bottle. Gynecologists and other doctors can offer a safe space for women to talk about contraceptive sabotage, especially if they didn’t realize it was happening, as well as alternatives, strategies and resources for abuse.

This idea of reproductive coercion also brings up thoughts for me about women who simply don’t want to have children. Men who get married might think that their wife automatically wants to start having babies and being domestic, and society expects women to do that, as well. While many women who can’t have children struggle to start families and completely deserve to be able to, there are other women out there who are content only being responsible for one person. And that is perfectly OK, and it adds another reason why men should never pressure women into becoming mothers.

Photo from Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S8 months ago


Jim Ven
Jim V8 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Jo Mullen
Jo Mullen4 years ago


Amanda S.
Amanda S4 years ago

When most people hear someone say "got pregnant to trap" someone else, or "using the pregnancy/child to keep the other person around" they'll often assume it's A WOMAN who's doing this to a man... NOT the other way around.
We'll respond with comments like "...that crazy woman" or "what a mean and manipulative person she is".
The man might offer to pay for an abortion in some of these cases - and the woman would refuse of course.
The man might then suggest adoption - the woman would guilt him into keeping the child and being the daddy/husband. We'd offer pity to the man for being "her victim".

It doesn't seem to Me that when the roles are reversed (such as this article discusses) that the woman receives the same sympathy and concern form others. She'll get told "even though the guys a's not all bad... at least you'll have your baby". If that woman pursues an abortion, she's demonized.
An unwanted pregnancy is bad news for the parent(s), the resulting child, and society.

My husband and other past partners well well informed in advance that I am become pregnant, I will deal with the matter however I see fit. I'll consider their opinion if it happened, but the choice is entirely MINE.
If they don't like that idea, they are free to stay OUT of MY BODY.

Amanda S.
Amanda S4 years ago

It's shocking and insanely creepy but I know first hand that it does happen. I had told My partner (who already had 4 or 5 very young children with 4 or 5 different women) that I did NOT want to have children, and most certainly not anytime in the year future. The number of little kids& various baby-mama's he had should have been a clear warning. But there we were one night, about to "get busy" I heard him open what I assumed to be a condom, and heard him fidgeting around - sounding like he had quickly placed it on. I open My contraceptive gel and he took the applicator out of My hand and said "you don't need that" and proceeded to try to push himself on Me. Luckily, I got away, flipped on the lights, and sure as heck - he wasn't wearing a condom and had tossed My contraceptive gel in the floor!
I spoke with him. I said "why do you have all these kids with different women and WHY did you try to sabotage My birth control? I don't want to get pregnant and you know that!" His reply " to know that I can keep you, that way you'll stay with me". What a deluded idiot! Needless to say, I ended that relationship quick!

Ve G.
Valentina G4 years ago

this is absolutely insane!

Alina Kanaski
Alina Kanaski4 years ago

How sad. I pray that everyone will realize how wrong this is.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

I am not surprised. Abusive men will find all sorts of ways to abuse. As for one person's ignorant comment about not knowing we lived in a society where you could not leave a man if you had a child with him? It is just that, ignorant. Sure, you can leave. You can become a single mother, make sure you can support the child you didn't want all alone, you can split custody with the man and miss out on huge moments. You can fight in court to have your child as much as possible, and spend hundreds and thousands to do so. You can suffer through 9 months in a life risking pregnancy that you did your best to prevent, knowing that this is your fate because some possessive jerk wouldn't let you make a decision for yourself. Yes, you can leave.It isn't relevant to this article, the comment was pointless. The point is that this should never happen, if a woman does not want to become pregnant and is taking measure to prevent pregnancy NO ONE has the right to force a pregnancy on her, by direct OR deceptive means. Her ability to leave does not make this sort of abuse acceptable.

Cyan Dickirs
Cyan Dickirs4 years ago

Karen H. I have read the Bible, many times and it does not condone "disgusting" sex acts. History records events, relates them, without condoning. Nowhere does it say Noah had sex with his daughters, who were married, according to the story. Re the handmaid, that was an historical practice, when a wife was barren, but no condoned. In fact, God had promised the "barren" wife that she would bear a son. She could not wait on God's promise, and her action in insisting on Abraham copulating with the handmaid to have progeny created the situation of enmity between the descendants of the "handmaid" and the descendants of the legitimate son of the promise of God. "Disgusting" sex acts were condemned (Sodom and Gommora(sp) and/or had severe consequences.
Re "pleasure", in Judaism and Christianity, sex between a husband and wife is intended for pleasure, and procreation and is the symbol of the union between Christ and the Church. Humans are the only species who feel pleasure and joy from sex and pregnancy and childbirth. Within a true marriage, intercourse is fulfilling, not a mindless spasm.

Effie Ligon
Effie Ligon4 years ago

We have a long way to go if this is still the measure of our society.