Lifestyle & Belief

Does rape cause pregnancy?


Missouri Rep. Todd Akin defended his no-exceptions abortion policy by saying "legitimate rape" rarely causes pregnancy.


courtesty Todd Akin's Facebook page

BOSTON — On Sunday, Republican Congressman Todd Akin claimed on a talk show that pregnancy from rape is extremely rare — allegedly because women's bodies don't allow it to.

"From what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down. But lets assume that that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."

The statement is clearly ridiculous — women's bodies don't have some special mechanism to block pregnancy caused by sexual assault.

We're not sure what doctors Congressman Akin has been talking to, but real doctors have studied the matter, and come up with numbers.

The results may appall you.

In the US, some 32,101 pregnancies a year result from rape, according to a widely-cited study presented to the South Atlantic Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 1996 and published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Although Congressman Akin contends that pregnancy from "legitimate rape" is "really rare," the docs who conducted the study calculated that about 1 in 20 rapes result in pregnancy.

Worse yet, they found that "the majority of these occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator." Nearly half received no medical treatment for the rape, and about a third didn't discover they were pregnant until the second trimester.

More at GlobalPost: "Legitimate rape" rarely causes pregnancy — Rep. Todd Akin.