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More Than 64K Pregnancies Estimated from Rape in Abortion Ban States, says JAMA Network Study

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After the overturn of Roe V. Wade, states with ban see less than a dozen legal abortions a month.

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Many women have experienced sexual violence in the United States. In the U.S., 1 in 6 women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape, according to Rainn (Rape, Abuse and Incest Network). After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wadein 2022, 14 states outlawed abortion completely, although five states made exceptions for rape.

A study published yesterday in JAMA Network, aimed to find out how many of these rapes led to pregnancies in states where abortion is illegal.

The team, led by Samuel L. Dickman, M.D., medical director at Planned Parenthood of Montana, used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2016 to 2017 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey and Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) annual survey on criminal victimization, and the most recent crime reports from the FBI.

To calculate the number of pregnancies from this study of women who had been raped, researchers multiplied the state-level estimate of rape by the number of completed rapes of reproductive-aged women. The result was adjusted for the number of months the total abortion ban was in effect in the 14 states.

“In the 14 states that implemented total abortion bans following the Dobbs decision, we estimated that 519,981 completed rapes were associated with 64,565 pregnancies during the 4 to 18 months that bans were in effect,” the researchers write.

Now, only 10 or fewer legal abortions take place in these states monthly.

Research limitations can stem from the fact that only 21% of survivors report their rape to law enforcement. As a result, a conclusion was made with 95% confidence.

“The large number of estimated rape-related pregnancies in abortion ban states, compared with the 10 or fewer legal abortions per month occurring in each of those states, indicates that persons who have been raped and become pregnant cannot access legal abortions in their home state, even in states with rape exceptions,” the researchers said.

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