One of the biggest debates in the abortion arena is whether or not a woman who is raped should be legally allowed to have an abortion if the rape results in a pregnancy. Both sides have statistics that seem to prove their point. Who can forget Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin of Missouri who once said that women could not get pregnant if it was a “legitimate” rape? The female body has ways of trying to shut the whole thing down.
Akin’s comments were denounced and disproven, but that didn’t stop others from commenting about rape and pregnancies. Richard Mourdock, himself a US Senate nominee, stated that “life was something that God intended,” inferring that a pregnancy due to rape was something that was supernaturally ordained. Both Akin and Mourdock lost their elections. Maybe they should have stuck to the facts on this subject matter instead.
Facts About Rape Victims Getting Pregnant
1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 1.3 million American women were victims of rape or attempted rape every year.
2. Half of all attempted rapes will result in an actual rape being completed.
3. RAINN statistics show that 64,000 women per year are raped, citing data from the Justice Department.
4. Up to 6 in 10 rape attempts will not be reported to law enforcement officials, which may account for the large disparity in numbers.
5. A 1996 study found a national rape-related pregnancy rate of 5% per rape among victims between the ages of 12 and 45.
6. When study samples are expanded to the entire population, it is estimated that between 3,200 to 50,000 rape related pregnancies occur every year.
7. The figures about women becoming pregnant from rape are all about 20 years old, but there isn’t any new data that has been published since.
8. A separate study on regular sexual intercourse found that having unprotected sex had a 3.1% chance of producing a pregnancy.
9. A study from Europe indicated that a woman had a 25% chance of becoming pregnant 48 hours before ovulation, but just a 5% chance during the remainder of the cycle
10. 1 out of 6 women will have been the victim of a rape or rape attempt at some point in her lifetime.
11. 17.7 million. That’s the number of women who are survivors of rape right now.
12. 90% of rape victims are women.
13. American Indian/Alaskan Native women have 2x the chances of being raped compared to the national average. Pacific Islander women have half the risk of experiencing a rape in their lifetime.
14. 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.
15. The majority of pregnancies that occurred from rape were among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator.
16. Only 11.7% of the women who discover they are pregnant after being raped received immediate medical attention.
17. 32.4% of rape victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester.
18. The percentage of women who decided to keep their child after discovering they were pregnant: 32.%. Half of the women had an abortion, 6% placed the child up for adoption, and about 12% of the pregnancies had a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion.
What Can We All Do To Help?
The first thing we can all do for women who are facing a pregnancy that was caused by a rape is to not be judgmental of them. They’ve already been a victim once. We don’t need to be making them a victim a second time – or worse, a pawn in some political or religious movement.
We can also create support groups that will help women be able to talk about the decisions that they do make. About 4 in 10 pregnancies from rape will see a child born and sometimes that means a woman becomes a single parent. It might also mean the child will be given over for adoption. Either way, the stresses that women face from either decision can be immense.
Let’s also not forget that some women struggle with the idea of abortion. They may not see any other outcome and deserve the same level of support, no matter what one’s personal beliefs about the matter may be. By knowing the real facts about victims becoming pregnant from a rape, we can all provide the individualized support that is often needed.