Advocates for victims of sexual and domestic violence have long
understood the critical role that reproductive freedom plays in ensuring
victim safety in the aftermath of trauma. Lawmakers, on the other hand, have
used victims of domestic and sexual violence as political footballs, oftentimes
supporting “exceptions” to abortion bans, such as for rape and incest, as a
means of distracting from the actual harms these restrictions cause. These
exceptions fail to meet the needs of victims and are inadequate protections
against the many forms of abuse, such as reproductive coercion and control,
that victims in abusive relationships face. This article examines the dynamics
of abusive relationships through the lens of the power and control model,
highlighting examples of reproductive control and coercion experienced by
victims of intimate partner violence in Virginia. It also explores previous
policy attempts to address reproductive coercion and control that have fallen
short. Ultimately, this article proposes a constitutional amendment to ensure
unfettered access to reproductive healthcare as the only viable solution for
victims, and all people in Virginia, going forward.