Grey Thoughts
Rape, Pregnancy and Abortion
A friend has asked me to post my thoughts to a post by Lindsay Beyerstein on Rape and Abortion. Lindsay is confused by those pro-life people who feel that rape is a reason to allow abortion. From the post
Anti-abortionists who support rape exemptions confuse me. They say fetuses have full human rights. Yet, clearly, in their minds, the life of the rape-fetus is less important than the emotional well-being of its mother. The unspoken assumption is that rape victim is innocent. According to the REs, the raped woman is entitled to kill that baby because she didn't put it there.
Lindsay then talks about Thompson's violinist argument which has been dealt with at length in other places, but it seems her complaint is mostly that allowing abortion in cases of rape is inconsistent for those who feel the fetus has the same right to life as the rest of us.

I would agree with her in this. It is inconsistent to argue in that way. What isn't inconsistent however is to move in a step-wise fashion on the issue. As Lindsay mentions, many people think that rape is a justification for allowing an abortion, and so there will obviously be more support for pushing for getting rid of abortion in cases which do not relate to rape. Ironically, this is going to get the pro-abortionists talking about slippery slopes, but I can live with that.

What is really curious however, is the study Lindsey mentions. Something doesn't fit with my statistical brain.
The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. … A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 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. [Holmes M, et al. 1996]
I did a bit more digging abd found this article about the study which adds the following figures.
The authors used data from the National Women's Study, a national sample of over 4,000 women. Twelve percent of these women had experienced at least one rape in their lifetime. The mean age for the sample was 44.9 years. Of the 3,031 women completing the study, 413 experienced a total of 616 completed rape incidents. The rape-related pregnancy rate among women of reproductive age was 5 percent per rape or 6 percent per victim. From these data, it can be estimated that 32,101 rape-related pregnancies may occur each year among American women over the age of 18 years.
Only 24 percent of women who were assaulted sought medical assistance. In cases in which medical attention was not given, only one-half of the women reported being counseled about the possibility of a pregnancy resulting from the rape. Subsequently, 32.4 percent of the pregnancies were not discovered until the second trimester
The majority of rape-related pregnancies were inflicted by a known perpetrator. Of these cases, 41.2 percent involved repetitive assaults and 55.9 percent involved use of alcohol or drugs by the perpetrator.
(this agrees with a South Australian survey which found that "about 50% of sexual assault occurs within a domestic relationship and so it is likely that there are a significant number of unplanned pregnancies from rape within this group of women."

The final bit from the article muddies things for me even more
Less than 20 percent of victims ever report the sexual assault,

So, If only 20ish% of women report rape or seek medical attention, then how can they be sure the rape is responsible for the pregnancy? How many are otherwise sexually active (or active in their domestic relationship)? For such a high figure of 5%, I would like to see another survey with this important ommission included.
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