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Domestic Violence and Abortion: Why Do Anti-Choicers Excuse Abuse?

Written by Amanda Marcotte for - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Two thoughts went through my head when I read about a study showing that women seeking abortion experience high rates of domestic violence.  The first thought was that this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, both because abused women might have more unintended pregnancies and because pregnancy often is the catalyst for abusers escalating the amount of violence.  And the second is that this really demonstrates how wrong anti-choicers are when they claim that forced childbirth is somehow pro-woman.  To be truly pro-woman, you must give women tools to prevent abusers from strengthening their hold over their victims.  Forcing an abuse victim to have a baby against her will by her abuser is doing the abuser’s work for him.

The findings of the study conducted by University of Iowa professors and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is grim but unsurprising to those of us who know something about the parameters of violence against women.  Fourteen percent of the women coming in for abortions over an eight-and-a-half month period had experienced domestic violence in the past 12 months. There’s reason to suspect that women in abusive relationships are more likely to experience unintended pregnancy. Sabotaging birth control is a common tactic of abusers seeking to increase their power over their victims and reduce their victims’ own sense of control. Preliminary studies have found that it may be that up to three-quarters of women in abusive relationships experience some form of contraception sabotage.    

Once pregnant, women in abusive relationships are quite likely to be more motivated than average to terminate a pregnancy.  Domestic abuse often escalates during pregnancy, probably because abusers feel an even stronger need to control their victims. Read more