This is probably something you don’t consider: a man doing something that causes a woman to get pregnant against her will. This could include compromising a condom, removing it mid-coitus, or compromising or destroying the woman’s birth control, among other options.
If you’ve seen the show Weeds, you’ll probably remember a scene from the season 2 episode “Last Tango in Agrestic”, in which Silas pierces a condom with a safety pin, causing his girlfriend, Megan, to get pregnant. Unfortunately Megan is also persuaded to get an abortion by her parents and the two never see each other again.
If a recent article on Alternet is to be believed, Silas’ episode is mild compared to what is actually going on. Allegedly the problem of men coercing pregnancies as a means of controlling the relationship or a situation is more common than one might think, and is certainly more common than I originally gave it thought — well any amount is more than none as, until I saw the Weeds episode mentioned (thank you Netflix), I hadn’t really given it any thought.
It is also something that should be a cause for concern.
In April I wrote an article in which I discussed the much-proffered claim that the abortion industry is targeting African Americans. In that article I mentioned domestic violence and posed the question of what role domestic violence plays in a woman’s decision to obtain an abortion. Taking coerced pregnancies into account, the ability to answer that question becomes easier and more difficult simultaneously.
And the reason for that is, as the article mentions, even if the woman gets pregnant the man could still demand she obtain an abortion, or threaten to kill her if she does get one. All of this appears to be in an effort to control the woman by also, through threat of or actual use of violence, taking control of her reproduction.
One fear a lot of men have probably had at one point in their life is that a woman will try to covertly get herself pregnant to corner him into marriage or at least being in her life in some fashion (even if it’s through child support payments automatically garnished from his paycheck by order of the Court). In an episode of the show Spin City called “Hot in the City”, a woman with whom Mike Flaherty (played by Michael J. Fox) had a romantic encounter recovered the condom he used and stored it in her freezer until the optimum time (which never came courtesy of a convenient power outage).
Yet this article discusses the exact opposite thing occurring: men coercing or forcing women into getting pregnant. Compromising the condom, removing it mid-coitus, never using it to begin with and failing to pull out, compromising or destroying birth control pills, and so on. Again this is certainly cause for concern.
And then there’s this question: what role does this play in the current rate of abortions? Obviously this article is discussing a form of domestic violence, so I think it’s a question to be explored more, and I’m glad to see that the phenomenon of coerced pregnancies will be studied further, and I hope in further studies they try to find the relationship, if any, between coerced pregnancies and abortions.
After all no woman should be coerced into getting pregnant. But one thing this definitely makes clear is how little we actually understand of the whole spectrum of unintended pregnancies and abortions.
Harris, Lynn. (2010, May 28). “‘My Boyfriend Stole My Birth Control’: When Men Force Women to Get Pregnant Against Their Will“. AlterNet.