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Reproductive Control and Abuse

Reproductive Control and Abuse

5 minute read

Have you ever disagreed with your partner about the right time to have children? Have they ever taken it too far? If you've experienced any of the red flags below, you may be a victim of reproductive control and abuse.

By definition, reproductive control and abuse means removing the ability to control your ability to reproduce when you want to. This can be done in two main ways: either by preventing you from conceiving (such as dosing you with birth control or coercing you to have an abortion) or by forcing you to reproduce (such as by telling you they’re on birth control, or removing a condom when you aren’t looking).

Reproductive control can come in many forms. Below are some examples.

Screwing with birth control/birth control devices, including:

  • tampering with condoms
  • throwing away birth control
  • lying about being on birth control
  • stealthing
  • dosing someone with birth control or emergency contraception against their wishes

Pressuring someone to get pregnant/have an abortion when they do not wish to, including:

  • using drugs or alcohol to encourage them to make bad decisions
  • telling them they will dump them/cheat on them/hurt them if they do not get pregnant/have an abortion
  • trying to convince/gaslight them into having a child, i.e. “If you really loved me, you’d have my child.”

Resorting to other forms of abuse to enforce their reproductive wishes:

  • using threats and verbal abuse
  • using physical violence to intimidate them, or try to induce a miscarriage
  • using sexual assault, including rape

Who can be a victim?

Victim of Reproductive Control and Abuse | Condom Depot Learning Center

Anyone can be a victim of reproductive control and abuse.

Unfortunately, the biggest victims of reproductive control and abuse are those female-bodied people who can conceive. Estimates point to one in four women being a victim of some sort of reproductive control, including being forced to have sex without a condom.

In particular, those young women of a lower income level are particularly sensitive to being pressured into becoming pregnant. Those who are subject to other forms of domestic violence are also at a greater risk.

But reproduction control and abuse can be done by or to people of any gender as long as there is the opportunity of a pregnancy. Approximately 10% of men in the United States report having a partner try to get pregnant against their wishes.

Reproductive abuse affects not only those who are doing the reproducing. Studies have found that kids born into a situation where there was reproductive abuse are often more likely to be abused themselves either by their parents, or subject to domestic violence in their own relationships.

Is it legal?

In Canada recently, there was a case where a man was given jail time for poking holes in a condom which he then used during sex with his female partner, getting her pregnant. The court found him guilty of sexual assault, since the terms of consent that his partner had agreed to before having sex with him were changed. This may have set a precedent in Canadian courts, but experts agree that it could have trouble finding a place in courts in the United States.

While it is considered a part of domestic abuse by the CDC, American lawmakers consider this type of abuse to be difficult to prove, hence the hesitancy to follow in Canada’s footsteps. But anti-violence groups in the US have begun putting pressure on lawmakers to change this.

Some forms of reproductive control can result in not just a baby being passed along. Victims often find themselves burdened with a second worry: STDs. We talked a great deal about this in our article on stealthing.

Canada also recently began to crack down on STD disclosure. The US isn't too far behind there, and many states have laws against passing certain STDs knowingly. This stems back from the early ‘90s at the height of the HIV epidemic-- and sadly, it does not include all STDs. 

What can you do?

If this article has been eye-opening to you about your own relationship or a friend’s, don’t be afraid. You have many options and resources to help you get out of this situation.

Remember, this does count as abuse, and the end goal with all abusive relationships should be getting out of the relationship. But we recognize that it’s not always that easy-- there can be extenuating circumstances that make this impossible for many people, including the threat of bodily harm or even death.

If you fear being tricked into pregnancy and you cannot immediately get out of the relationship, here are some tips:

If you have a uterus:

  • Consider using a form of birth control that is difficult to manipulate, such as the Depo shot or an IUD.
  • Get the HPV vaccine to prevent the spread of dangerous STDs.
  • Keep some emergency contraception, like Plan B, on hand. Remember, they’re approved for all ages!
  • If possible, stay away from drugs and alcohol before having sex with your partner.

If you have a penis:

  • Be responsible for your own condoms. Purchase them, bring them to romantic liaisons, and apply them yourself.
  • Ejaculate outside of the woman’s body while still using condoms.
  • Check all condoms before applying them for evidence of tamper. 
  • Consider pulling a Hot Pocket.
  • If possible, stay away from drugs and alcohol before having sex with your partner.

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