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1 in 4 women victim of reproductive control, says study

8 January 2019

 
Around 75% of the women who contact ARCH have experienced some sort of coercion from partners or others.

More needs to be done to prevent abortion coercion.

A study has found that 25% of US women attending sexual and reproductive healthcare services were subject to control or coercion over their "reproductive lives".

The report, published in the British Medical Journal, defines the phenomenon of coercion over reproduction as "actions that interfere with a woman's reproductive intentions and any actions that pressurise or coerce a woman into initiating or terminating a pregnancy".

Risk of coercion played down

It talks about "contraceptive sabotage", and women being pressured to start or continue a pregnancy, but also of intimate partners or others coercing women into abortions - an issue that is frequently played down by abortion advocates. Predictably, the Independent reports that "Clare Murphy, of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the UK’s largest abortion provider, said discussion about reproductive coercion often hinges on suggestions women are forced into abortions they do not want, but the greater issue may in fact lie with forced pregnancies."

What's the evidence?

In fact, a number of studies indicate that abortion coercion is very common. One showed that 64% of the women questioned reported feeling pressured to abort. Even a study by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute indicated that 30% of women have abortions "because someone else, not the woman" wants it" and this research was based on interviews conducted on-site at an abortion clinic, where women might have been reluctant or unable to report coercion due to those exerting it being present. 

A spokeswoman for Marie Stopes (who were found to be signing off abortions based on brief phone conversations with call centre workers)  said they train nurses to spot signs of abuse and also provide unlimited, free counselling.

"Research long overdue"

Clare Bremner, a counsellor for the Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline (ARCH), says more needs to be done to prevent abortion coercion. "Around 75% of the women who contact us have experienced some sort of pressure or coercion, from partners, family, friends, employers and even healthcare staff," she said. "Whatever screening is supposed to be in place at present is clearly failing these women and girls. Research into coerced abortion is long overdue, not just because it goes to the heart of medical ethics and human rights but also because it is a known risk factor for mental and emotional problems post-abortion."

"We welcome any efforts to highlight and tackle this national scandal, that women up and down the country are having abortions which they do not want."

If you or anyone you know is suffering after an abortion experience, you can contact the Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline on 08456038501 for free, confidential, non-judgemental counselling.

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