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Many Women Victims of 'Contraceptive Sabotage,' Experts Say
Date:1/23/2013

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Obstetricians and gynecologists should screen women and teens for signs that their partner is sabotaging their birth control, forcing them to have unprotected sex or otherwise trying to control their reproductive choices, says a leading group of U.S. doctors.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) lays out guidelines for detecting sexual and reproductive "coercion" -- which it calls an under-recognized form of violence against women -- in the February issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

"Most ob/gyns are probably unfamiliar with sexual and reproductive coercion as an entity and probably don't ask about it," said Dr. Eve Espey, chairwoman of the ACOG's Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women.

The abuse includes hiding or destroying a woman's birth control method of choice; poking holes in a condom or removing it during sex; coercing a woman to carry out or end a pregnancy against her will through violence or threats; and intentionally exposing her to a sexually transmitted disease.

It's not clear how common this type of abuse is, Espey said. One study of teenagers on public assistance found that of those who said they were victims of any type of domestic violence, two-thirds said it included birth-control sabotage.

"It's hard to determine the prevalence of this form of abuse, and it's understood that most [domestic] violence is under-reported," Espey said.

A 2011 government survey found that one in four U.S. women has been physically abused by a partner.

"Given how prevalent [domestic] violence is, reproductive coercion is probably not uncommon," Espey said.

Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, praised the ACOG's move. Encouraging doctors to regularly ask women about such abuse is "a great addition to women's healt
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