Committee Opinion on Reproductive and Sexual Coercion
The Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women developed a Committee Opinion on Reproductive and Sexual Coercion. 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. This behavior includes explicit attempts to impregnate a partner against her will, control outcomes of a pregnancy, coerce a partner to have unprotected sex, and interfere with contraceptive methods. Obstetrician–gynecologists are in a unique position to address reproductive and sexual coercion and provide screening and clinical interventions to improve health outcomes. Because of the known link between reproductive health and violence, health care providers should screen women and adolescent girls for intimate partner violence and reproductive and sexual coercion at periodic intervals such as annual examinations, new patient visits, and during obstetric care (at the first prenatal visit, at least once per trimester, and at the postpartum checkup). Interventions include education on the effect of reproductive and sexual coercion and intimate partner violence on patients’ health and choices, counseling on harm-reduction strategies, and prevention of unintended pregnancies by offering long-acting methods of contraception that are less detectable to partners.