These threats may be at an interpersonal level (e.g. intimate partner violence or family violence), or a system level (e.g. racism or discriminatory policies). Violating a person’s reproductive rights can cause significant harm including trauma and poor health and social outcomes.
There are different forms of interpersonal violence that can impact reproductive rights including violence against a family member, intimate partner violence and sexual violence. Intimate partner violence often includes reproductive coercion, where someone tries to pressure or force someone to have a child or not have a child. For example, a woman may experience an abusive partner destroying their contraceptives or removing a condom without consent. There are strong links between intimate partner violence and sexual violence and poor reproductive health outcomes like unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Some people are more likely to experience intimate partner violence and sexual violence including women and girls, people with diverse gender identities, Māori and Pacific people, disabled people and young people.
People can also have their reproductive rights limited by systems, including discriminatory law and policies. For example, until 2020, when abortion laws were changed in New Zealand, it was a person’s doctors who could make the decision about getting an abortion, not the pregnant person. Current policies that make health visits free for people getting a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) but not free for other types of contraceptives can prevent people from choosing the contraceptive that meets their needs, which impacts their reproductive rights.
Throughout history, racism and colonisation have impacted reproductive health and rights. For example, forced sterilisation and removing children from families was a tactic of colonisers, which took away the reproductive rights of indigenous populations, causing significant harm and trauma across generations.
Sexual Wellbeing Aotearoa is an advocate for reproductive rights. As an organisation, we are committed to addressing threats to reproductive rights including racism, discriminatory policies, intimate partner violence and sexual violence.
Sexual Wellbeing Aotearoa’s policies ensure doctors and nurses routinely ask clients about violence so they can offer support, health care and referrals to specialist services. Sexual Wellbeing Aotearoa promotes rights-based reproductive health care, which is focused on the needs of the client and does not prioritise one type of contraceptive over another. We train other health practitioners to offer the full range of available contraceptives. Sexual Wellbeing Aotearoa advocates for and provides resources to teach relationships and sexuality education that supports people to be informed about their reproductive rights.
Sexual Wellbeing Aotearoa advocates for evidence-based laws and policies that are not coercive or discriminatory and allow all people to fully realise their reproductive rights.