Longtime Los Angeles attorney says abusers often seek to control women’s bodies
Longtime California family law attorney Alphonse Provinziano says the Supreme Court decision revoking the constitutional right to abortion could lead to a rise in domestic violence cases related to reproductive coercion.
Provinziano, who often works with victims of domestic violence, said that abusers have been known to try to interfere with their use of contraception or access to information, or use coercive tactics to attempt to control the outcome of a pregnancy.
That could mean everything from secretly removing a condom or hiding birth control pills to unreasonably pressuring a partner to get pregnant, he said, and now may include more cases where abusers seek to use new restrictions on abortion to prevent their partners from getting one.
“Women in states that ban or heavily restrict abortion will need to travel farther distances, which makes it much harder for those in abusive relationships to avoid attracting attention,” said Provinziano, who is founder of Provinziano & Associates, which has seen a dramatic rise in cases of domestic violence since the pandemic began among a wide range of income classes. “In situations where the abuser already controls access to money or transportation, it may prove next to impossible for them to make the trip.”
Provinziano said that lawmakers and judges are increasingly coming to treat reproductive coercion as a form of domestic violence, which can help victims who have access to legal help. A new law that went into force in January 2022 in California added it to a list of statutory reasons why women can get a domestic violence order.
“Control in a relationship over women’s reproductive rights is a form of domestic violence. New legislation in other states seeking to criminalise abortion will make it harder for women in these tough situations, who not only will not be able to get help but could face legal risk too,” added Provinziano. “When the state makes getting an abortion illegal, it implicitly takes sides with the abuser who is trying to prevent their partner from getting one.”