The study released yesterday by the Guttmacher Institute provides even more evidence that victims of domestic and dating violence often suffer reproductive control from their dating partners. Three in four respondents (74 percent) in this new study – of 71 domestic violence victims seeking services at a family planning clinic, an abortion clinic and a domestic violence shelter – reported that their partners had threatened to get them pregnant, forced them to have unprotected sex, sabotaged or interfered with their contraception, threatened them with sexual intercourse, tried to control the outcome of their pregnancies if they became pregnant, or in other ways tried to coerce their reproductive outcomes. These abusive behaviors can lead to unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and a host of other problems.
This study adds to the growing and irrefutable body of evidence that partner violence too often leads to unplanned pregnancy. We make a mistake by putting these issues in silos and promoting solutions that ignore the connection. If we are serious about stopping unplanned pregnancy in this country, we simply must address the sexual violence and reproductive control that often cause it. If we are serious about stopping dating and domestic violence, we must recognize that many victims grapple daily with sexual violence and reproductive coercion. And if we are serious about improving women’s health, we must address the violence that too many young women experience.