Investigating Reproductive Coercion and Violence Towards Women with Disabilities

Pacheco, Laura and Aunos, Marjorie and Mercerat, Coralie and Goulden, Ami-Lynn and Cousineau, Marie-Marthe and Swab, Michelle and Brenton, B. and Moyo, S. (2023) Investigating Reproductive Coercion and Violence Towards Women with Disabilities. Research Report. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. (Submitted)

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4 Executive summary Background: the issue For centuries, women with disabilities (WWD) have been subject to multiple and intersecting forms of violence (Abbas, 2022). Much of the literature has focused on intimate partner violence towards WWD (i.e. Campbell et al., 2022; Meyer et al., 2022). Reproductive violence towards WWD has received less attention, despite the long history of reproductive injustice within Canadian and international contexts. This particular form of violence towards WWD is a violation of human rights and has multiple and pervasive impacts on social, emotional, and physical health (Björnsdóttir et al., 2017; Grace & Anderson, 2018; McConnell & Phelan, 2022; Powell, 2021). The Senate of Canada Committee on Human Rights (2022), recently published a report indicating the prevalence of reproductive coercion on intersecting and marginalized communities, calling to action the government and health and social service sectors. Despite the recognition of the issues and rights of WWD within their reproductive journey, there is scant literature in the field. Objectives The objective of this project was to conduct a scoping review investigating and synthesizing the research literature related to reproductive violence against WWD within Canadian and international contexts. Results Following a rigorous research strategy, 48 publications were included in this scoping review. Although heterogeneous, this review provides an overview of the meaning and types of reproductive violence towards WWD. The results of this scoping review are centered on legal analysis and most of the publications are related to women with intellectual disabilities. Within the legal disciplines, questions related to the ‘best interests’ of WWD and informed consent were widely examined in the selected international publications. Key messages • Stereotypes within society, such as WWD being identified as asexual, dependent, and unfit for motherhood prevail. Within the legal studies, it was evidenced that these ideologies underpinned many decisions that were taken in court applications for sterilization. • WWD lack access to information and services related to sexual and reproductive health and rights. 5 • WWD are often coerced into long-term and/or irreversible contraception methods. • Managing menstrual issues is one of the main arguments in the application of sterilization towards WWD. The other important issues are related to protecting against sexual abuse and preventing unexpected pregnancies. • There is a gap in research-knowledge related to sterilization that occurs outside institutions. • There is a need for more empirical studies related to reproductive violence including the exploration of the experiences of WWD. Methods (search methods, selection criteria, data collection and analysis) In this project, we conducted a scoping review, following the six steps recommended by Arksey and O’Malley (2005) in their framework for conducting scoping reviews (updated by Levac et al., 2010). The inclusion and exclusion criteria were related to gender (had to be oriented towards women), disabilities (had to be disability focused) and reproductive violence (had to refer specifically to reproductive violence). We excluded all publications related to HIV/AIDS and mental health issues. Another important exclusion criterion was related to the accessibility of the publication.

Item Type: Report (Research Report)
Item ID: 16196
Additional Information: SSHRC KSG Report
Keywords: Reproductive Violence, Women, Disabilities, Scoping Review, Reproductive Justice
Department(s): Social Work, School of
Date: June 2023
Date Type: Submission
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