faith in action

Male partner reproductive coercion

Male partner reproductive coercion is a male partner’s attempts to maintain control in the relationship through actions related to reproductive health.

Rape with the intent to impregnate, birth control sabotage, and forcing a woman to get an abortion are just a few forms of abuse that are known as male partner reproductive coercion.

This abuse is a male partner’s attempts to maintain control in the relationship through actions related to reproductive health.

Male partner reproductive coercion is often related to domestic abuse. Getting pregnant can keep a woman in a relationship by making it more difficult for her to be independent, get an education or otherwise leave the relationship. Sometimes the opposite is the case, and the male partner wants the woman to terminate the pregnancy.

There are various specific reasons for reproductive coercion, but they all boil down to control; control over the relationship and control over her.

The United Methodist Social Principles state that “we affirm the right of women to live free from violence and abuse.” (Social Principles, ¶162.F)

Reproductive coercion is a form of abuse.

We don’t discuss reproductive coercion nearly enough. Many women who experience reproductive coercion do not realize what is happening, especially in the case of the partner wanting them to get pregnant. Sometimes, this coercion is interpreted as a sign of commitment or love from the partner, rather than abuse and manipulation. Even if the reproductive coercion is interpreted this way, it is still an abusive and stressful situation.

Although more research needs to be done on the topic of reproductive coercion, there is enough to be able to tell that it is a problem and that it is a form of abuse.

There are also effective options for helping protect against reproductive coercion. For example, 20 percent of women who experienced reproductive coercion felt that it would have been helpful if a health care provider had discussed undetectable methods of contraception with them. Another 14 percent thought that it would have been beneficial to have discussed pregnancy coercion. Finally, as with many forms of abuse, providers find it helpful to have specific screening skills and tools to help health care providers feel comfortable screening for abuse and reproductive coercion.

Ideas for what you can do.

  • Advocate for comprehensive, age-appropriate sexual education in schools starting in kindergarten with teaching about positive relationships, empathy, personal space, and understanding and expressing emotions. Comprehensive sexual education should also advance through adolescence and adulthood.
  • Hold classes at church to help adults understand what comprehensive sexual education is as well as why it is essential for their children, and them, to learn.
  • Advocate for better training and resources for health providers in regards to screening and helping with reproductive coercion.
  • Ensure that the children in your church get lessons about the value of others’ thoughts, feelings and opinions, as well as the value of respecting those thoughts, feelings and opinions.