An outreach person from Women in Distress came to our medical school this week. Women in Distress is the local recipient of the proceeds from our performance of The Vagina Monologues. I am going to be in my third production of it this year. This year I will be performing “I Was There in the Room”, which is the closing piece about a forceps birth.
The representative from Women in Distress did a great presentation. I did add one thing at the end for the group, considering we are all intending to be health care practitioners. I made sure that they knew how common contraceptive sabotage or reproductive coercion was a facet of domestic violence. I thought it was important to know that a patient may complain of frequently losing her birth control pills, or who gets pregnant unintentionally often, or seems very uncomfortable talking about contraception and refuses without discussing it, or outright tells you that her partner will flush it down the toilet or won’t let her use birth control, and any of these should be a red flag that there may be an abuse problem.
Well, today I decided to do something about my burgeoning blog reader. (Be prepared for lots of hat tips and a blogaround or two.) Cara at The Curvature linked to this press release from the Family Violence Prevention Fund about reproductive coercion.
From August 2008 to March 2009, researchers worked at five reproductive health clinics in Northern California, querying some 1,300 English- and Spanish-speaking 16- to 29-year-old women who agreed to respond to a survey about their experiences. They were asked about birth-control sabotage, pregnancy coercion and intimate partner violence. Approximately one in five young women said they experienced pregnancy coercion and 15 percent said they experienced birth control sabotage. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they had experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner. Thirty-five percent of the women who reported partner violence also reported either pregnancy coercion or birth control sabotage.
This is not only a “little recognized form of abuse”, but it is also an important facet of the discussion of unintended pregnancy and abortion. Some people think the male partner should have a say in abortion. I think this highlights why that is not something that can nor should be enforced by the courts, and is really should not be a priority.