Is There Such Thing as Reproductive Abuse?

25 comments
August 14, 2012 ‐ By Charing Ball

Source: thethirdcity.org

This weekend, I was chillin’ on the couch, having a Law & Order marathon of my own, when this one particular episode came on that really caught my attention.

In season 12, episode 22 of Law and Order: Special Victims’ Unit, John Stamos, most know for the affectionately cute role as Uncle Jessie on Full House,  guest starred as a manipulative womanizer, who  fathered well over 20 children by 20 different women around the world.  His tactic was simple: punching holes into condoms and then when the women showed up pregnant, he would shower them with reassurance that this “miracle” pregnancy was a good thing. And then after they gave birth, he was off to the next one to repeat the cycle again.

According to the character, Ken, he was not an evil man for fathering all of these children and lying to his baby mommas, many of whom never knew about his extensive reproductive history, but rather fulfilling his duty as a man to spread his DNA across the globe. Plus he loves children.  Needless to say, he got murdered.

Now, the-who-killed-Ken question is not as relevant as the, oh-my-God-is-this-a-real-thing question, which I had me up half the night researching. And ladies, I’m sorry to say but reproduction abuse does exist. Reproductive coercion, also known as birth control sabotage, is the act of manipulation in which one person undermines another person’s birth control in an effort to bring about an unwanted pregnancy. Examples of this act include replacing birth control pills with fake pills, poking holes in condoms and diaphragms, blatantly flushing birth control down toilets, threats of violence and even passive coercion such as the ever popular, “you would do it if you love me” speech.

In fact, a phone survey by the National Domestic Violence Hotline has revealed that 1 in 4 women have claimed that a partner had pressured them to become pregnant. This rate includes men, who would force them into unprotected sex by refusing to wear a condom. Likewise, in a study published last year, as many as 75 percent of women, between the ages of 18 and 49, who had a history of being in an abusive relationship also reported some form of reproductive coercion.

This kind of makes sense when you begin to think about stories like 33-year old Desmond Hatchett, the man who fathered 24 children by 11 different women. Hatchett appeared in a Knoxville, Tenn., child support court to ask the judge for clemency because he was struggling to make ends meet at his minimum wage job. Many have blamed the women in this unfortunate situation however perhaps they didn’t know? What if, like the fictionalized Ken, these women were duped and coerced into reproduction?

Ratchettness…er…I mean, Hatchett aside, from a more global worldview, reproductive coercion has also been found to be a common denominator in the rise of birth rates within Somalian refugee camps. According to Women’s Network News, many refugee women have been pressured to procreate over and over again, as a way to soothe the embattled ego of war-torn men.  In fact, the women who refuse the pressure to procreate often become victims of violence from their husbands within these camps.

Which leads me to ask? How come there are no laws on the books protecting women (and some men) from this kind of abuse? Like domestic violence and sexual abuse/rape, the victim often does not consent to what is being done to them. Likewise, reproductive coercion, which results in pregnancy and eventually birth, may make its victim feel trapped. With the addition of a new child the victim may now feel that they unable to provide for a child, especially if there are financial difficulties. Thus they become victims to control and further manipulation. Not to mention the increased vulnerabilities to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and AIDS.

In our world, which continues to treat women’s bodies as property and value them as only mere vessels for procreation (see, our media and our political landscape, which uses women as political bargaining chips for further evidence of this phenomenon), some might be inclined to believe that reproductive coercion isn’t worth considering.  After all, all women must eventually become mothers, right? But if women are ever to be seen as equals to men, we too must have a full say in our reproductive choice. That includes birth control, abortion, abstinence and the ability to exercise all three options without force.

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/nikki.page.37 Nikki Cartell

    my mother told me never let anyone lay something in you that you cannot take care of on your own

  • Gye Nyame

    You know I could never understand the “whoops i’m pregnant” excuse of anyone 21 and older. Making a baby is not a magic trick, and there are ways to prevent it if you are serious. I am a married woman and after my second child I said I’m done, but I didn’t stop there at my six week check up I had a hormone free IUD placed in my cervix. No ”whoops” moment to worry about and if I change my mind I can remove it and have another baby. I find we as a people put absolutely no thought or time into family planning, which statistically speaking, has the greatest impact on the outcome of your and your baby’s life.

  • Gye Nyame

    You know I could never understand the “whoops i’m pregnant” excuse of anyone 21 and older. Making a baby is not a magic trick, and there are ways to prevent it if you are serious. I am a married woman and after my second child I said I’m done, but I didn’t stop there at my six week check up I had a hormone free IUD placed in my cervix. No ”whoops” moment to worry about and if I change my mind I can remove it and have another baby. I find we as a people put absolutely no thought or time into family planning, which statistically speaking, has the greatest impact on the outcome of your and your baby’s life.

  • Gye Nyame

    You know I could never understand the “whoops i’m pregnant” excuse of anyone 21 and older. Making a baby is not a magic trick, and there are ways to prevent it if you are serious. I am a married woman and after my second child I said I’m done, but I didn’t stop there at my six week check up I had a hormone free IUD placed in my cervix. No ”whoops” moment to worry about and if I change my mind I can remove it and have another baby. I find we as a people put absolutely no thought or time into family planning, which statistically speaking, has the greatest impact on the outcome of your and your baby’s life.

  • princesstal

    If you can’t trust the other person enough and have to check condoms to see if they poked holes in then you probably shouldn’t be having sex with them in the first place

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  • http://twitter.com/bamboo_princess bamboo_princess

    I’ve seen judges declare these situations rape. It’s sex outside the parameters of what the partner agreed to.

  • ann

    I think it is just as much as the woman’s responsibility as much as the man. In some cases, you have women who purposely set these guys up to get pregnant thinking that the guy would stay with him. Which is stupid and foolish.

  • one

    Its real. I have a child that I love dearly that was conceived from a hole poked in a condom. Its not a joke. Its not funny.

    • CarlaKah

      I’m sorry but doesn’t a condom break after intercourse if there is a whole in it? And if so, you will be able to tell that the condom didn’t work. Once you know this you can get a morning-after pill the asap and be cool.

  • penelope

    What about women who coerce men into getting them pregnant? You know, a “gotta hook the man” kind of thing? It does happen.

    • CarlaKah

      Just like it is the woman’s responsibility to practice her own birth control, it is a man’s responsibility to stick to condoms if he doesn’t want the woman to get pregnant and doesn’t trust her. Most of the time these boys know that the girl wants a baby because she’s spoken about it. If he declines he should also switch to condoms, just in case (I always tell my brother that he has no business relying on birth control pills if he is not emotioally, physically, financially and spiritually ready to become a present and involved dad. He is 17 by the way).

  • Candacey Doris

    Keep in mind that women o this too. Sabotage birth control an get pregnant on purpose to trap a man in either marriage or child support. But this kin of thing only emphasizes why people of both genders need to look out for number one and protect your reproductive rights. Ladies, multiple forms of birth control are your friend. Redundancy is not a bad thing. And watch out for psycho boyfriends, stalkers, ex-boyfriends, relatives, etc. Guys, beware of gold diggers, hoes, tramps, and just plain psychos. And check the condom everyone! Water will not hurt the spermicide and can help you tell if that condom is ok if you have doubts.

  • Hello_Kitty81

    And this is why all of us women should have our own condoms and stop depending on a man for birth control. Don’t want babies or the responsibility of having one, then either get on birth control or don’t do it at all. This makes me glad that I didn’t have a baby out of wedlock and my ex didn’t have a baby mama.

    • mindypatterson

      PREACH IT,PREACHER.but seriously,i’m not sure what some of these people are thinking(and i’m not talking about black folks alone) but nowadays,people think having a baby will keep them together or will keep that person’s love.when if fact,having a child based on those reason,bring nothing but problems.i’m not saying that they baby themselves are the problem,i’m saying the people with that type of logical are.having babies will every tom,dick and hery is crazy.having kids will every women you lay will is wrong.this is a topic that needs to be address.

  • KIR12

    Black women and men are not having anymore nor less sex, unprotected sex, than men and women of other races. The overwhelming majority of pregnancies by UNMARRIED black women are not driven her sex partners desire to have kids. Essentially, black women have babies by the men they want to have them for and abort the rest ie kids they don’t want. 50% of all black pregnancies are aborted.

    Equal responsiblity actually means…NO ONE RESPONSIBILE. Equal responsibility for UNMARRIED women has never worked for any race nor nation. You are responsible for your body, your life and your future. You and no one else!!! Blacks now have a 50% abortion rate and 72% illegitmacy rate behind “He should have used a condom” nonsense. Black women and the black community have become the laughing stock of America behind this type of logic. 80 to 88% of sexually active UNMARRIED women in western european nations are using some form of female contraceptives. Equal responsiblity actually means…NO ONE RESPONSIBILE. Condoms are good for preventing STD’s and short term hookups. However, when feelings and emotions are involved and trust is built the condom is almost always not used or not used as frequently. This is a reality and human element with all races! Yes, plan on using a condom but if you don’t want to get pregnant you better have a backup plan.

    • CarlaKah

      I always use condoms. Love or no love. I need to be married before I let that go. And I only wanna marry the man I would love as the father of children. So there.

  • 2cents

    This is a topic that I have ruminated on for some time. It pains me to say how many women I know who are struggling, have multiple children, sometimes with different fathers yet continue to have children. It kills me to see black women being treated as breeding factories by men and it kills me even more to see women who treat their own bodies as such when their circumstances are difficult and the father is MIA or not willing to marry and raise the child along with the mother etc.

    While I understand the cycle of abuse that exists in the relationship between some women and their children’s father(s), I have a hard time understanding how unplanned pregnancies are so common and often discussed as if they are accidental blessings. Blessings, yes, but I find myself wondering how it is possible to have many ”accidents” when protection is so readily available to us.
    I’ve never been in a relationship with a man who FORCED me not to protect myself so by no means am I judging but I just can’t see or imagine it for myself. I agree that as women we have to stand up and accept more responsibility for ourselves in our sexual and emotional dealings with men because…well.. these things have consequences. Don’t let one mistake or lapse in judgement become a pattern of behaviors that you can’t get out of.
    Depression is real. The economy is real. STD’s are REAL! Protect yourself. We have to stop letting ourselves get pulled under by things that often require common sense and the will to speak up and say “This isn’t right for me”.

  • MLS2698

    Yes, I have heard of this; and women need to have their own condoms if they want to be safe. My mother’s first husband tried to poke holes in the condoms after she denied a request for procreation. But she said she knew she didn’t want his baby ( they were only married about three years). Some men do this in order to be a constant force in a woman’s life, and create havoc all in the name of ” we have a child together.” Sad, but true.

  • Mia

    I was just going to say I heard this term from watching Law & Order SVU

  • IllyPhilly

    Holy sh*t batman!

  • Gimmeabreak78

    In third world countries where discoussions about sex, and therefore contraception are taboo, we may never find laws on the books protecting people from reproductive abuse. However, in the United States we won’t find those laws because such laws are not necessary. In this country, both genders have the right and access to long-term effective birth control if they want it. Women have Depo shots, Nuvaring, tubal ligation, etc. Men have vasectomies. All of the options are widely available and MUCH less expensive than raising a child that resulted from an unwanted pregnancy. We cannot (nor should we) legislate sexual responsibility. At some point, we simply have to expect adults to be adults. Sex, by it’s very nature is risky for both men and women. A real adult understands the riks and chooses to live with the consequences.

    • KIR12

      This is written better than I ever could.

      • Gimmeabreak78

        Yeah, but for some reason, you use this thread to turn it into a black-woman bashing session. It’s beyond me why you even bother.

    • CarlaKah

      And let’s not forget that being forced to do anything sexual is harassment or rape. You can file a report for that and get a dude locked up if he tries to force you to have sex with him unprotected . If he just refuses to use a condom, choose your love for your own well-being over your love/infatuation for him and let him be. If you want to use condoms then only have sex if condoms are used.