Reproductive coercion is a form of abuse in which a person who is, was, or wishes to be in an intimate or dating relationship with an adolescent or adult engages in behaviors that are intended to maintain power and control over the victim/survivor’s reproductive health and reproductive choices. Anyone of any gender identity or sexual orientation can experience or perpetrate reproductive coercion.
Reproductive coercion includes pregnancy pressure, pregnancy coercion, birth control sabotage, and sexual coercion.
involves behaviors intended to pressure someone to become pregnant when they do not wish to be. Pregnancy coercion involves behaviors intended to coerce someone to continue or terminate an existing pregnancy according to the abuser’s wishes.
Examples of pregnancy pressure and pregnancy coercion can include:
Threatening to leave someone if they do not become pregnant
Threatening to hurt someone if they do not become pregnant
Forcing someone to carry a pregnancy to term against their wishes through threats or acts of violence
Forcing someone to terminate a pregnancy when they do not want to
Injuring someone in a way that causes a miscarriage
Birth control sabotage
Birth control sabotage involves behaviors that interfere with someone’s contraceptive methods, often with the purpose of promoting a pregnancy.
Examples of birth control sabotage can include:
Destroying, hiding, or disposing of contraceptives
Manipulating condoms (such as poking holes in them, pretending to put them on but not actually using them, and removing them without consent during sexual activity)
Not allowing someone to use birth control, or preventing them from accessing it
Threatening physical harm or threatening to leave if someone uses contraceptives
Refusing to withdraw during sexual activity when withdrawal is the agreed-upon method of birth control
Removing someone’s contraceptive patches, implants, or IUDs
Sexual coercion involves behaviors that create a feeling, situation, or atmosphere in which emotional or physical control leads to sexual assault or rape, or a victim/survivor feeling like they have no choice but to submit to sexual activity with the perpetrator. Coercion is not consent.
Examples of sexual coercion can include:
Repeatedly pressuring someone to engage in sexual activity when they do not want to
Threatening to end a relationship if someone does not engage in sexual activity
Intentionally exposing someone to an STI
Intentionally getting someone intoxicated or high to take advantage of them sexually
Making someone feel guilty or afraid if they say no to sexual activity
Threatening to retaliate against someone if notified of a positive STI result
As a form of relationship abuse, reproductive coercion has been occurring for decades, but research and awareness on the topic is still relatively new. It is important that all youth and adults have education and awareness around their right to make informed reproductive health choices that are free from coercion and violence.
Safety planning around reproductive coercion can involve providing patient education, connecting victim/survivors to local domestic and sexual violence services, and providing information on more discreet contraceptive methods that partners or ex-partners may be less likely to detect and sabotage.
For more information on harm reduction methods for reproductive coercion,
please view this Contraception Chart from Children by Choice.
For additional information, please visit:
Futures Without Violence statistics factsheet on reproductive coercion
Futures Without Violence reproductive health safety card
Futures Without Violence We Are Sacred: American Indian/Alaska Native Reproductive Health Safety Card