ACOG recommends screening for ‘reproductive coercion’

February 14, 2013

A new American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) committee opinion (no. 554) addresses the detection and prevention of sexual coercion and violence within women’s relationships. The opinion was developed by the Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women.

 

A new American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) committee opinion (no. 554) addresses the detection and prevention of sexual coercion and violence within women’s relationships. The opinion was developed by the Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women.

According to ACOG, reproductive and sexual coercion “involves behavior intended to maintain power and control in a relationship related to reproductive health by someone who is, was, or wishes to be involved in an intimate or dating relationship with an adult or adolescent.”

Specifically, reproductive coercion involves sabotage of contraceptive methods and coercing or pressuring women to become pregnant, according to the opinion. The authors note that in one study of family planning clinic patients, 15% of women experiencing physical violence also reported birth control sabotage.

“Because of the known link between reproductive health and violence, health care providers should screen women and adolescent girls for intimate partner violence,” the opinion authors recommend. They suggest screening for this type of coercion and violence by posing questions to patients including “Has your partner ever forced you to do something sexually that you did not want to do or refused your request to use condoms?” “Has your partner ever tried to get you pregnant when you did not want to be pregnant?” “Are you worried your partner will hurt you if you do not do what he wants with the pregnancy?” and “Does your partner support your decision about when or if you want to become pregnant?”