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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Harvard: Exploring Coercive Practices Regarding Contraception

Global family planning policies may incentivize health care providers to coerce women into adopting contraceptive services they don’t fully understand or want, according to a new study in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

Study author Dr. Leigh Senderowicz, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted the qualitative research while a doctoral student at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She interviewed 49 women of reproductive age in an anonymized sub-Saharan African country, who reported a variety of coercive experiences regarding their use of contraception. For example, some women said that providers threatened to deny them future care if they didn’t use a particular contraceptive method. Others reported going to a clinic to request the removal of contraceptive implants, but the providers refused.

Dr. Senderowicz suggested that the providers’ coercive actions are a result of trying to meet global health targets that set numerical goals for the number of family planning users in the country. The results suggest the need for a “radical reconceptualization of family planning goals and measurements,” Dr. Senderowicz wrote.

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