Coerced pregnancy and domestic violence: the need to address reproductive coercion to keep women safe

Stream: Poster session
Date: Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Time: 2.45 pm – 3.15 pm


Reproductive coercion is a tool of control used by perpetrators of domestic violence (DV), characterised by behaviours to maintain power and control in the relationship such as: birth control sabotage; rape and; coerced pregnancy. Coerced pregnancy is intended to manipulate a woman to remain in an abusive relationship by further eroding her capacity to leave, and ensuring an ongoing role for the perpetrator in that woman’s life. 19% of contacts to Children by Choice’s counselling team in 2012-13 identified experiencing domestic violence, often reporting reproductive coercion. Women in these circumstances seeking an abortion often do so to avoid bringing a child into a DV environment or to avoid co-parenting with a perpetrator. Barriers to accessing termination services caused by Queensland’s criminalisation of abortion are further compounded for these women. This workshop will present the initial outcomes and recommendations of a 2014 research partnership between Children by Choice and the T.C. Beirne School of Law UQ Pro Bono Centre on coerced pregnancy. This includes a focus on the necessity of abortion law reform for these women to prevent existing barriers to provision from placing pregnant women in DV relationships at greater risk, and impeding their access to a safe future.


Katherine Kerr (Presenter), Children by Choice
Katherine has completed a Bachelor of Social Work and Bachelor of Arts at the University of Queensland. After working in the domestic violence sector as a DV Court Support advocate and crisis counsellor, Katherine returned to study law at the Queensland University of Technology – motivated by an awareness of the many barriers to justice in Queensland. Katherine currently works in reproductive health providing unbiased unplanned pregnancy decision-making counselling, and recently published a feminist critique of abortion laws in Queensland.