Addressing Barriers to Reproductive Autonomy among Sexually Active Female University Students in the United States

Peter R. Fawson, PhD*; Rachel L. Wright, PhD ; Timothy Jones, MSW ; Kelsey Stone, MSW ; Evamarie Siegel, MSW

Addressing Barriers to Reproductive Autonomy among Sexually Active Female University Students in the United States.

The current study aims to explore the presence and impact of different types of barriers, such as, controlling behaviors in a relationship and how they are associated with a woman’s
achievement of reproductive autonomy.

Reproductive autonomy is the ability to make decisions on contraceptive use, pregnancy, and childbearing, and is necessary for a person’s overall well-being. One’s
partner, and the health of that relationship, may have a significant
impact on achieving reproductive autonomy.

Researchers utilized a cross-sectional design by administering surveys
comprised of the Revised Controlling Behaviors Scale and the
Reproductive Autonomy Scale to university students who reported being in an intimate relationship.

Multivariate analysis identified predictors from each of the models on a woman’s
ability to attain reproductive autonomy. Three hundred and four sexually active female participants reported experiencing reproductive autonomy on all three subscales as well as controlling behavior victimization.

Significant predictors of barriers to reproductive autonomy were experiencing intimidation, experiencing isolation, receiving threats, and currently wanting to conceive a child when their partner did not.

The author(s) conclude that practitioners should include screening tools targeting these barriers to reproductive autonomy, such as the presence of intimidation, isolation, and threats. Sex education programs should strengthen conflict resolution skill building and awareness to break down these barriers within an intimate relationship in order to increase reproductive autonomy.

Reproductive autonomy is the right possessed by an individual or a woman to control matters
regarding contraceptive use, pregnancy, and childbearing. Furthermore, it is connected to a
woman’s well-being, because pregnancy takes place in a woman’s body and she is expected to
take primary responsibility for the pregnancy outcome, regardless
of it being aborted or carried to term.

Women Health Open J. 2017; SE(1): S3-S9. doi: 10.17140/WHOJ-SE-1-102