Contrary to the beliefs of certain hot-sauce-advocating talk show hosts, women aren't the only ones who might try to initiate a pregnancy without a partner's consent. A survey of 1,300 teen girls and young women asked, "Has someone you were dating or going out with ever told you not to use any birth control," or "said he would leave you if you would not get pregnant," or "taken off the condom while you were having sex so that you would get pregnant?" Disturbingly, the answer was frequently yes — one in five reported "pregnancy coercion," while 15% said they'd suffered from "birth control sabotage." And these were correlated with other types of abuse — 35% of respondents who experienced partner violence experienced pregnancy coercion or birth-control sabotage as well. Says study author Elizabeth Miller, "Not only is reproductive coercion associated with violence from male partners, but when women report experiencing both reproductive coercion and partner violence, the risk for unintended pregnancy increases significantly."
The survey turns on its head the notion that women's fertility is a weapon they use to "trap" men. Apparently men are also capable of this kind of trapping, exploiting fear of abuse to force women into pregnancies they don't want. Really, pregnancy coercion and birth control sabotage are forms of abuse, no matter who perpetrates them, and it's not really all that surprising that they would be correlated with physical violence. What the survey suggests is that, much as rape is often more about power than sex, reproductive coercion may be more about domination and control than simple "baby fever." And the kind of person who would trick a partner into unintended pregnancy isn't necessarily a woman — but is definitely an asshole.