Most people are opposed to abortion at some level, whether it is a late trimester abortion or the belief that life begins at conception. Where the lines begin to blur for some is when a woman is raped and becomes pregnant by that act of violence. Should women be allowed to abort the children of their rapists? Most people on both sides of the debate on abortion generally concede that rape victims will generally want an abortion.
Facts About Rape Victims and Abortions
1. Fewer than 1% of all abortions take place because there has been rape or incest involved to create the pregnancy.
2. Up to 85% of the women who become pregnant through rape or incest choose to have their children.
3. The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age.
4. About 32,000 pregnancies result from sexual assaults or rape every year in the United States.
5. The majority of rape-related pregnancies occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator.
6. Only 11.7% of these adolescents who were raped by a known, often related predator received immediate medical attention after the assault.
7. 32.4% of victims do not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester.
8. In a 1996 study of rape victims and pregnancy, 11.8% of the pregnancies resulted in a spontaneous abortion. Only about 6% of the mothers chose to have the child and then give it up for adoption.
9. An Elliot Institute study on rape-related pregnancies found that nearly 80% of the women who aborted said that abortion was the wrong solution.
10. 43% of women said they felt pressure to abort from family members or health workers.
11. 95% of those who mentioned rape or incest as a reason for an abortion also named other reasons as well for deciding to abort.
12. The number of abortions that occur in the United States based on the statistics because of rape or incest: 12,000.
13. When the Pennsylvania Legislature modified the law to say it only covered rape or incest reported to law-enforcement authorities, the number of publicly funded abortions dropped from 35 a month to 3.
14. Almost 70% of sexual assaults go unreported to law enforcement officials.
15. The number of states who currently pay for abortions for poor women who have been the victims of rape or incest: 8.
16. Another 12 states finance abortions for poor women with broader circumstances.
17. On the other end of the spectrum, 90% of the children who are battered in the US were wanted pregnancies.
18. In 2008, the Supreme Court of California upheld that pregnancy resulting from rape constitutes great bodily injury.
Many laws that are introduced to restrict access to abortion even exclude pregnancies that are caused by a sexual assault. Although there has been a steady decline in abortion rates since 1980, there are still about 1.2 million abortions in the US every year – a figure that leads the world in per capita abortions. How many of those 1.2 million abortions are happening because of sexual violence?
Why Are Abortion Rates For Rape So Low?
There is a different dynamic in play with the unwanted pregnancy that occurs from sexual violence. Instead of the common belief that women will not want the child because it came from rape or incest, the child represents something good that can come from a difficult situation. Many women say that when they see their child, they fall in love at first sight. Others may choose adoption because they don’t want an abortion, but don’t want the child either.
What must we do as a society? We must support these mothers and the choices they make. If they choose to have the child, then the parental rights of the rapist must be immediately terminated. Bold measures must be put into place so that a victim does not have to continually be around their perpetrator because of their child. We should allow for subsidized adoptions just as we allow for subsidized abortions if necessary.
For women who decide that an abortion is the only feasible answer for them, then both sides must set aside their difference and support the victim instead of a specific political or religious agenda. These women have already been victims once. Political rancor shouldn’t make them become victims a second time.