Judging by tabloid talk shows, crazy ladies regularly cut holes in condoms and lie about taking birth control in order to trick men into becoming baby daddies. But doctors are now being instructed to look for the opposite: women who are pressured into getting pregnant. They're not rare.
"Increasingly," The Cut reports, "birth-control sabotage is viewed as a tool not for baby-crazed female stalkers, but for a class of predominantly male abusers who want to exercise control over their partner’s body, make her dependent upon them, or secure a long-term presence in her life."
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently issued a committee recommendation asking ob-gyns to screen patients for this type of reproductive coercion. ACOG wants doctors to ask women in for annual exams and pregnancy tests questions like, “Does your partner support your decision about when or if you want to become pregnant?”
Elizabeth E. Miller, M.D., Ph.D., the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh's chief of adolescent medicine, led a 2010 study which found that 15 percent of 1,300 women who visited federal- and state-subsidized California family-planning clinics had their birth control sabotaged. One in five was pressured not to use birth control — or, more specifically, to get knocked up to keep the relationship together — by a boyfriend. 35 percent of respondents who reported intimate partner violence also reported birth-control sabotage.
Miller started investigating reproductive coercion after meeting a 15-year-old patient who said her boyfriend only used condoms occasionally:
Rather than asking whether the boyfriend refused her request to use condoms, she assumed the patient needed to be educated about birth control. Two weeks later, the girl was in the emergency room with a severe head injury. “Personally, it was incredibly destabilizing,” Miller recalled. “It was like, ‘How could I have missed this?” Later, she interviewed girls who were known to have been in violent relationships for a 2007 paper on the topic. “A quarter of them said, ‘He was trying to get me pregnant.'”
Read the rest of the story over at The Cut — it's fascinating. Hopefully Maury is reading, too.
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