"I was obligated to accept": A qualitative exploration of contraceptive coercion.

08:00 EDT 2nd September 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of ""I was obligated to accept": A qualitative exploration of contraceptive coercion."

Despite narratives about empowering women through contraception, global family planning programs are evaluated primarily by their ability to increase contraceptive uptake and reduce fertility in the developing world. Some scholars have raised concerns that this emphasis on fertility reduction and contraceptive uptake may contribute to situations where women are coerced into adopting contraceptive services they do not fully understand or want. Yet surprisingly little data have been collected to investigate whether such coercion exists or how it might manifest. In-depth interviews with 49 women of reproductive age in a sub-Saharan African country begin to fill this knowledge gap. Respondents reported a range of non-autonomous experiences including biased or directive counseling, dramatically limited contraceptive method mix, scare tactics, provision of false medical information, refusal to remove provider-dependent methods, and the non-consented provision of long-acting methods. The results show that, rather than a binary outcome, coercion sits on a spectrum and need not involve overt force or violence, but can also result from more quotidian limits to free, full, and informed choice. The study finds that global family planning policies and discourses do appear to incentivize coercive practices. It also calls into question the central role of intentionality, by demonstrating how coercion can arise from structural causes as well as interpersonal ones. By showing how contraceptive autonomy may be limited even by providers working in good faith, these results argue for an end to the instrumentalization of women's bodies, and for a radical reconceptualization of family planning goals and measurements to focus exclusively on reproductive health, rights and justice.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Social science & medicine (1982)
ISSN: 1873-5347
Pages: 112531


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