The 'HASS Sexual Gendered Violence Group' series aims to bring together Researchers and Practitioners who work in the gendered violence space: Policy makers; Front-line workers in social work and the human services; and systems such as Health and Law Enforcement are all invited to attend.

Reproductive Coercion: Histories, Terms, and Intimate Partner Violence - Dr Cassandra Byrnes

Mon 8 May 2023 10:00am11:30am


Zoom. Refer to link in event information.
For more information contact Dr Jenny Maturi (

10am -11:30am (Qld Time). 

Reproductive coercion is a recently defined concept in academic literature that encompasses any intervention into reproductive choices that will dictate the onset or outcome of another person’s pregnancy. Although there has been selected scholarship in the last five years on experiences of reproductive coercion in the disciplines of law, sociology, medicine, social work, and psychology, there has been little in the way of historical investigation. The history of forced reproductive control in twentieth-century Australia illustrates constructions of rights and bodies that inform current understandings of the role of coercion in reproductive justice. Associations between reproductive coercion and intimate partner violence suggest a form of gendered control, where historically men have most frequently been the perpetrators and women the victims. This research will show how medical science facilitated assertions of agency through contraception and abortion, but was restricted to populations that could afford and access these services. While this form of coercion has never been criminalised, laws concerning the criminalisation and distribution of abortion, birth control, and sterilization also influenced the degree of control over these reproductive decisions. This research aligns with recent scholarly interest in histories of sexual violence and experiences of consent and coercion.

Dr Cassandra Byrnes is a lecturer and historian of gender and sexuality, focusing on reproductive rights and control. She is working on a history of reproductive coercion in Australia’s recent past, and how that directly influences our current understandings of laws and social practices.