This just in: Rape can, and sometimes does, lead to pregnancy.
One would think that goes without saying, but apparently one would be wrong. Over the weekend, Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican senate nominee from Missouri, said in an interview that “from what I understand from doctors,” it’s “really rare” for a woman to become pregnant from a “legitimate rape.”
No word on Rep. Akin’s definition of what makes a rape legitimate.
A 1996 study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, which looked at 4,000 American women over three years, found that “rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency.”
Specifically, the researchers found that among sexual assault victims between the age of 12 and 45, there was a 5 percent chance of pregnancy each time they were raped.
This means that “among adult women, an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year,” they wrote.
Among women in their study, “a total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester,” the researchers reported. “32.2% opted to keep the infant, whereas 50% underwent abortion, and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion.”
It would be valuable, of course, to have more recent research on this subject. However, new data is unlikely to contradict the researchers’ blunt conclusion: “Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency.”
Even, we suspect, in Missouri.