Reproductive coercion: hidden forces revisited

Admin Advocacy, Media, Reproductive coercion




In acknowledgement of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is today, Marie Stopes Australia has released the second edition of Hidden Forces: a white paper on reproductive coercion in Australia 
Reproductive coercion is behaviour that interferes with the autonomy of a person to make decisions about their reproductive health. Reproductive coercion is a public health issue that can impact mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and maternal and child health.  
Originally published in 2018, Hidden Forces brought reproductive coercion as a form of abuse and violence to light. Informed by sector-wide contributions, Hidden Forces made a series of  
recommendations for further collaborative action. The second edition of Hidden Forces provides a two-year progress report.  
While there have been some noteworthy achievements, there is still much to be done. Australia does not have a National Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy, and reproductive coercion is not yet detailed in the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children. This is vital, as access to sexual and reproductive healthcare free from coercion has been identified as a violence prevention mechanism. 
Marie Stopes Australia is committed to ongoing work in this space, including a more significant review of Hidden Forces in 2022.  
Quotes from Jamal Hakim, Managing Director, Marie Stopes Australia: 
“Policy and practice development to prevent and respond to reproductive coercion is critical for quality and safety in healthcare. We need further investment in research alongside increased access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.” 
“Clinical governance and partnering with consumers is essential in the prevention of, and response to, reproductive coercion.”  
“Our understandings of reproductive coercion will continue to develop alongside evolving models of care. A diversity of health consumer perspectives will continue to shape the language we use in clinical and community settings.” 
"Bodily autonomy is a fundamental right for all people, and continued investment in the area of reproductive coercion is essential in progressing rights in this area." 
Quotes from Cate Grindlay, Executive Director of Nursing & Clinical Services, Marie Stopes Australia 
“Women attempting to access abortion care can be at higher risk of violence than the general population.” 
“From our counselling data, up to one in three women can experience coercion when considering their pregnancy choices. That figure is higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, with up to one in two experiencing reproductive coercion.”  
“Sexual and reproductive healthcare not only prevents the risk of harm; it is a point of early intervention and prevention.” 
Quotes from Bonney Corbin, Head of Policy, Marie Stopes Australia 
“Marie Stopes Australia is committed to engaging in further research as part of a collaborative effort to progress understandings of the prevalence, lived experiences of, and most appropriate response to reproductive coercion.” 
“Advocacy work is undertaken across the health sector and with various community stakeholders who have been seminal in various campaigns focused on women’s rights and equality, human rights, LGBTIQ+ rights, decolonisation and safe access to healthcare for all.” 
“Reproductive coercion is not yet recognised in the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women in their Children. As the Second National Plan will be drafted in the coming year, it is critical that the Australian Government commits to embedding reproductive coercion in violence prevention policy.” 

Media contact Kate Davis, Head of Communications, Marie Stopes Australia, 0428 396 391