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Rape Led to 64,000 Pregnancies in 14 U.S. States With Abortion Bans, Study Says

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Rape resulted in 64,565 pregnancies in 14 U.S. states with near-total abortion bans since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, according to a new peer-reviewed study published online Wednesday in medical journal JAMA

“In this cross-sectional study, thousands of girls and women in states that banned abortion experienced rape-related pregnancy, but few (if any) obtained in-state abortions legally, suggesting that rape exceptions fail to provide reasonable access to abortion for survivors,” the researchers wrote. 

The authors, who noted there is no reliable state-level data on rapes, analyzed multiple data sources to estimate reported and unreported rapes. The study used national rape data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adjusted for survivors of reproductive age using Bureau of Justice Statistics and for those who experienced vaginal rape using previous research, and apportioned for each state based on Federal Bureau of Investigation rape statistics from local jurisdictions. They also referenced previous research on the prevalence of pregnancy resulting from rape.

The study did not look at how many of those pregnancies resulted in birth. But researchers pointed to a previous report that showed 10 or fewer legal abortions were reported per month in each of those states. The authors said in their research report that the data “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 study reported an estimated 519, 981 rapes associated with 64,565 pregnancies in states that ban abortion after conception during the four to 18 months after the bans went into effect. Of those pregnancies, 58,979 occurred in states with no exception for rape.

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Nine of the 14 states the study looked at have a total abortion ban with no exception in the case of rape. In the remaining five states of Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, and North Dakota, survivors must report those crimes to the police to be able to access abortion services. National research in 2022 showed only 21% of victims do, the study notes.

Read More: She Wasn’t Able to Get an Abortion. Now She’s a Mom. Soon She’ll Start 7th Grade

The Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling ended the constitutional right to abortion across America that the landmark Roe v. Wade 1973 ruling guaranteed. 

The study was authored by five doctors and one public health researcher, who disclosed their conflicts of interests. The lead author, Dr. Samuel Dickman, is the medical director of Planned Parenthood Montana, an abortion and reproductive health provider, and a plaintiff in multiple cases challenging the state’s abortion laws. Another author, Kari White, received grants from abortion and contraception science research groups including the Society for Family Planning and the Collaborative for Gender and Reproductive Equity.

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