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A recently study [] published in the American Journal of Public Health [online 17 June 2010] found that 14 percent of women who had abortions reported having experienced physical or sexual abuse at least once in the past year.

The survey of 986 women found that 10 percent reported physical abuse and 3 percent reported sexual abuse, with 74 percent of women reporting they were abused by a current partner and 24 percent reporting abuse by a previous partner (some women reported abuse by both current and former partners).

While the study only asked about the year prior to the abortion, many post- abortion counselors have found that many women who have had abortions report a history of sexual abuse,  perhaps in their childhood. Most discussion about abortion and sexual abuse concerns what happens if a woman or girl becomes pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

The book Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion  ( explores the further connection between abortion and a history of sexual abuse that may have occurred before the pregnancy took place.

Audrey Saftlas, Universiy of Iowa professor of epidemiology and lead author of the study, commented: "Women seeking termination of pregnancy comprise a particularly high-risk group for physical or sexual assault. In our study, almost 14 percent of women receiving an abortion reported at least one incident of physical or sexual abuse in the past year."

"These findings strongly support the need for clinic-based screening with interventions. These high-risk women need resources, referrals and support to help them and their families reduce the violence in their lives," Saftlas added.

Assault Rape Pregnancies Are Rare PDF Print E-mail

First, let's define the term "rape". We should use the phrase "forced rape" or "assault rape" for that specifies what we're talking about. Rape can also be statutory. Depending upon your state law, statutory rape is intercourse with a girl under a certain age, often 16. Statutory rape can be consensual, but it is still statutory rape.

Another category is "date rape". For some reason, this is supposed to be different, but, forced rape is still rape, regardless of whether it occurs on a date or behind the bushes. If a college woman is raped on a date, she should report it to the police and pursue charges. Further, she should undergo a medical examination and treatment, just as she would in the aftermath of an assault rape. It is not a separate category.

Assault rape pregnancies are extremely rare...How many forced rapes result in a pregnancy?...There have been some studies. In a statistical abstract of the U.S. in 1989, there were 90,000 rapes reported in the United States. [Bureau of Census Table #283]

Another study from the US Justice Department, surveyed 49,000 households annually between the years 1973-1987. In 1973, it reported 95,934 completed rapes. In 1987, the figure was 82,505. The study stated that only 53% were reported to police. Factoring this in, the totals were 181,000 rapes in 1973 and 155,000 in 1987. In August 1995, the US Justice Department, using a different study with different questions, returned a result of 170,000 completed rapes plus 140,000 attempted rapes (210,000).

There are approximately 100,000,000 females old enough to be at risk for rape in the U.S. If we calculate on the basis of 100,000 rapes, that means that one woman in 1,000 is raped each year. If we calculate on the basis of 200,000 rapes, that means that one woman in 500 is raped each year.

So, how many rape pregnancies are there? The answer is that, according to statistical reporting, there are no more than one or two pregnancies resultant from every 1000 forced rapes.

Does that make sense? Using the figure of 200,000 women who were forcibly raped, one-third were either too old or too young to get pregnant. That leaves 133,000 at risk for pregnancy.

  • A woman is capable of being fertilized only 3-6 days of a 30-day month. Multiply our figure of 133,000 by by 0.3. Three days of 30 reduces to 1 of 10. Divide 133,000 by 10, and we have 13,300 women remaining. If we use 5 days of 30, then we have 1 of 6. Divide 133,000 by 6 and there are 22,166 women remaining.
  • One-fourth of all women in the U.S. of childbearing age have been sterilized, so the remaining three-fourths comes to 10,000 (or 15,000).
  • Only half of assailants penetrate her body and/or deposit sperm in her vagina1, so cut the remaining figures in half. This leaves 5,000 (or 7,500).
  • Fifteen percent of men are sterile, which drops that figure to 4,250 (or 6,375).
  • Another 15% of women are on the pill or already pregnant. That reduces the number to 3,070 (or 4,600).
  • Now factor in the fact that it takes 5-10 months for the average couple to achieve a pregnancy. Use the smaller figure of 5 months to be conservative and divide the above figures by 5. The number now drops to 600 (or 920).
  • In an average population, the miscarriage rate is about 15%. In this case, we have incredible emotional trauma. Her body is upset. Even if she conceives, the miscarriage rate will be higher than in a more normal pregnancy. If 20% of raped women miscarry, the figure drops to 450 (or 740).
  • Finally, factor in what is certainly one of the most important reasons why a rape victim rarely gets pregnant, and that's psychic trauma. Every woman is aware that stress and emotional factors can alter her menstrual cycle. To get and stay pregnant a woman's body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain that is easily influenced by emotions. There's no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, and implantation.
  • What further percentage reduction in pregnancy will this cause? No one knows. but this factor may well cut this last figure by at least 50%, which would make the final figure 225 (or 370) women pregnant each year from forced rape. These numbers closely match the 200 that have been documented in clinical studies.

So, assault rape pregnancy is extremely rare. If we use the figure of 200, it is 4 per state per year. Even if we use a figure of 500, we're talking about 10 rape pregnancies per state, per year.

In the U.S. in one year, there are more than 6 million pregnancies. Roughly 3 million eventuate in live birth, 1.5 million are aborted and 500,000 miscarry. While each assault rape pregnancy is a tragedy for the mother (not for the baby, though), such pregnancies amount to a small fraction of the total annual U.S. pregnancies. Further, less than half of assault rape pregnancies are aborted, even though that course of action tends to be vigorously pushed by those around the woman.2, 3

1 New England Journal of Medicine, A.N. Groth, Sexual Dysfunction During Rape, 6Oct1977, p.764-766.

2.Mahkorn & Dolan, "Sexual Assault & Pregnancy", New Perspectives on Human Abortion, University Publisher of America, 1981, pp. 182-199.

3 Mahkorn, "Pregnancy & Sexual Assault," Psychological Aspects of Abortion, University Publishers of America, 1979, pp., 53-72.

[J.C. Willke, M.D., Life Issues Connector, 4/1999] 


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