What is reproductive coercion?
Restricting or denying a woman’s ability to make her own decisions about her body is an attempt to maintain power and control over a woman. Behaviour that has the intention of controlling a woman’s reproductive health decision-making is known as reproductive coercion.
Reproductive coercion generally falls into one of the below categories, though is not limited to:
- Forcing or manipulating a woman into becoming pregnant
- Prevent a woman from using contraception, or tampering with contraception
- Forcing a woman to continue or terminate a pregnancy.
Signs of reproductive coercion
Reproductive coercion can include:
- Destroying, hiding or sabotaging birth control pills or condoms
- Controlling finances to restrict a woman’s access to birth control
- Insisting on unprotected sex
- Verbal pressure, threats or blackmail to influence reproductive choices
- Pregnancy pressure, for example a man accusing a woman of not wanting to be pregnant because she doesn’t love him or because she wants to continue alleged affairs
- Pressuring a woman to continue a pregnancy
- Pressuring a woman to end a pregnancy
- Miscarriage as a result of physical violence.
Impact of reproductive coercion
Reproductive coercion is a public health issue. Sexual and reproductive health rights are linked to gender equality and wellbeing. Many women who experience reproductive coercion also experience physical or sexual violence.
Reproductive coercion impacts both women and their children. Consequences can include sexually transmitted infections, unintended and unwanted pregnancy, abortion and unsafe abortion, complications in pregnancy and mental health issues.
It can also have negative impacts on a woman achieving economic and sexual self-determination and having full access to education and employment.
Pregnancy is also a trigger for domestic violence to first occur: of women who have experienced violence during pregnancy by a previous partner since the age of 15, 25% indicated that the violence first occurred during the pregnancy.
What to do if you are experiencing reproductive coercion
If you have or are experiencing reproductive coercion, you can find help now.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2013). Personal Safety Survey, Australia, 2012. Canberra: ABS. Table 27.