Reproductive Coercion

If you think you may be experiencing Reproductive Coercion and are seeking free, confidential, non-judgemental, and pro-choice support, counselling, or community resources – please reach out to Planned Parenthood Ottawa and we will help you get the care you need.

About Reproductive Coercion 

Reproductive Coercion (RC) is when your choices related to if, how, and when you get pregnant or become a parent are controlled.

This can happen when your partner, caregiver, healthcare provider or family members control your reproductive health choices. They may directly control, limit, or influence your reproductive decisions through manipulation, intimidation, withholding information, threats and/or acts of violence. 

Who experiences Reproductive Coercion?

This form of violence can affect anyone and is common, however, populations that are made more vulnerable to RC are mothers, young people, physically or cognitively disabled people, 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, people living with HIV, sex workers, immigrants, undocumented and non-permanent residents, Black and Indigenous peoples, those living in rural or remote communities and/or people of low-income status.

What is reproductive autonomy?

Reproductive autonomy is about having power and control to make personal decisions related to birth control, pregnancy, abortion, and childbearing that is free from coercion, manipulation, or decisive influence by systemic barriers (unaffordable child care, stable housing, access to food etc.). This includes a capacity to express and fulfil desires around having children or not, deciding if and when you will become pregnant, whether or when you want to use contraception and which method to use, and whether or not you want to continue a pregnancy or have an abortion. Your body belongs to you – these decisions are yours and yours only. Reproductive coercion, although encompassing a spectrum of behaviours and institutional failures, is grounded in violating a person’s reproductive autonomy.

 

What can Reproductive Coercion look like?

 

RC is a form of sexual violence and is common in relationships that are already emotionally, physically and/or sexually abusive.

RC includes behaviours such as:

  • Destroying, hiding, or physically removing your birth control or contraceptive method
  • Removing or damaging a condom without your knowledge or consent (this can also be referred to as “stealthing”)
    Based on a Supreme Court Ruling in July of 2022, if someone removes a condom during sex without the consent of the other person, they can be charged with sexual assault
  • Failing to carry out an agreed-upon pull-out method
  • Using pressure, intimidation or threats for you to become pregnant, continue pregnancy, or have an abortion
  • Intentionally exposing you to sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Threatening violence or becoming violent if you make a decision about your reproductive health with which they do not agree
  • Denying you transportation or obstructing your access to sexual and reproductive health services
  • Pressuring you to put your gender transition on hold in order to meet their reproductive expectations, or pressuring you to use your body for child rearing
  • Using your non-permanent immigration status to control your reproductive decisions (e.g threatening to cancel a spousal/student sponsorship or work permit)
  • Barriers to receiving comprehensive reproductive healthcare, particularly for Queer, Trans, and Indigenous peoples
  • Isolation from reproductive healthcare services in rural and/or remote and highly religious communities 
  • Pressure put on Disabled people, Indigenous community members, and people living with HIV to be sterilized (this permanent method of birth control includes forced hysterectomies and tubal ligations, performed without the full consent or awareness of patients)
  • Policies, systems, and organizations that punish the disclosure of abuse and/or seek to control reproductive outcomes e.g 1) Threat of family separation via the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) for deciding to have additional children or seeking help for abuse 2) Immigration sponsorship and work permit policies that discourage the disclosure of abuse 3) Anti-abortion organizations disguised as pregnancy clinics (Crisis Pregnancy Centres (CPCs): visit this link for a list of centres in Canada
  • Healthcare workers withholding information about abortions, intentionally spreading misinformation, and/or encouraging the continuation of a pregnancy
  • Unique social, cultural, religious, and familial reproductive pressure
  • Community-based isolation and extreme judgement as a result of reproductive choices 
  • Social and government systems leaving pregnant people without a choice to parent based on a lack of social support and resource distribution (e.g absence of basic income, affordable child care, stable housing, or access to food)

What to do if I am experiencing Reproductive Coercion?

 

If you are concerned for your safety and/or health, reach out to:

  • The Sexual Assault and Partner Abuse Care Program

The Ottawa Hospital – Civic Campus – (613) 798-5555 ext: 13770

https://www.ottawahospital.on.ca/en/clinical-services/deptpgrmcs/programs/sexual-assault-and-partner-abuse-care-program/ 

  • The Clinic at VoiceFound

(613) 686-1818

reception@voicefound.ca  

https://www.voicefound.ca/home 

https://www.instagram.com/voicefound/ 

They will be equipped to provide:

  • Pregnancy testing
  • Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and PAP testing (cervical screening)
  • HIV PrEP and PEP (for pre and post-exposure care and immunization for both Hepatitis B & A)
  • Emergency birth control (Plan B, Ella, Copper IUD)
  • Crisis counselling and safety planning
  • Referrals for further care and resources available in Ottawa
  • Medical abortions (VoiceFound)
  • Completion of a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK) (Civic Hospital)

    The physical, mental, and emotional impacts of reproductive coercion can feel like a huge weight to carry and you are not alone.

    For immediate peer support and counselling:

    • The Sexual Assault Support Centre Crisis Line

    (613)-234-2266

    info@sascottawa.com 

    https://sascottawa.com/ 

    https://www.instagram.com/sascottawa/ 

    • The Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre 24h Support

    (613)-562-2333

    Text chat available from 12pm-12am: 613-544-6424

    orcc@orcc.net 

    https://orcc.net/ 

    https://www.instagram.com/orccsupports/ 

    • Planned Parenthood Ottawa Options Line

    (613)-226-3234 ext: 101

    12pm-4pm

    Monday – Friday

    ppottawa@ppottawa.ca 

    https://ppottawa.ca/ 

    https://www.instagram.com/knowppottawa/ 

    Planned Parenthood Ottawa offers free, confidential, non-judgmental, evidence-informed and pro-choice Pregnancy Options Counselling. We provide support, information, and resource referrals for those experiencing reproductive coercion and regarding adoption, abortion/post-abortion, parenting, contraception, and STI navigation. Our staff and volunteers are here to answer your questions, offer support, or book you an appointment with one of our peer-counsellors.

    Planned Parenthood Ottawa offers free, pro-choice, all-options counselling

    We believe that you have the right to receive accurate, unbiased information about all of your options so you can make confident and well-informed decisions. You can talk to us about any thoughts, feelings, concerns and questions, and we’ll do our best to provide you with the support and information you’re looking for.

    Options Mail

    12 + 10 =